RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
Published — Sunday 11 November 2012
Last update 11 November 2012 7:57 am
The panel formed by the government to investigate the causes of the fuel truck accident in eastern Riyadh early this month, which killed at least 22 people, will present its report to Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bin Naif on Monday. “The panel has compiled a comprehensive report after speaking to several officials, eyewitnesses, as well those injured in the fuel tanker explosion,” said a reliable official source, while giving details of the investigation.
The panel, he said, has seen the DNA reports, as well as the postmortem reports of the victims of the accident. He said that some people died because of “the intensity of the fire following the explosion and excess inhaling of gases.”
The investigation panel is composed of senior Saudi officials from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance and Civil Defense, along with a few other government agencies.
Asked about the repatriation of bodies, Saeed A. Bawazeer, chief of the forensic center at King Saud Medical City, said the bodies of 10 foreign workers including five Pakistani expatriates will be repatriated in a timely schedule this week. “All necessary documentation is over and we are only waiting for some last-minute formalities,” he said. The arrangements are being made in cooperation with respective Asian embassies to send the bodies, said Bawazeer.
“However, DNA testing is being done on the bodies of some other migrant workers for proper identification before their remains can be flown home,” said the Saudi health official. He said the Saudi authorities gave the green signal to repatriate the bodies as per the wishes of the family members of those killed in the accident.
Bawazeer said bodies of seven Saudis, one Egyptian and one Pakistani have been buried locally so far. He said 10 other bodies including seven of Pakistani workers, one Bangladeshi worker and a Nepalese worker, will be repatriated in the next few days as per the wishes of their relatives.
“The bodies of three of the victims have not been identified and no one has come forward to claim them."
"Two bodies identified as those of Pakistani workers are undergoing DNA tests at the moment,” said Pakistani Ambassador Mohammed Naeem Khan, yesterday. “Another Pakistani worker is recovering at the local National Guard Hospital,” he added.
Asked about the status of Nepalese workers, who were killed and injured during the explosion, Umesh Kumar Mudbari, a spokesman of the Nepalese Embassy, said that the body of the sole Nepalese victim will be sent to Katmandu within a few days. He pointed out that two Nepalese workers were injured during the accident. “One of the injured workers has already been released after treatment, while the other is still undergoing treatment,” Mudbari added. Officials from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh are set to visit the Filipino driver of the fuel truck held in custody by the authorities. A statement released by the Philippine’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said that Philippine Ambassador Ezzedin Tago is planning to visit Ruben Kebeng.
Florentino Santiago, a Filipino, was among the dead. The explosion also injured 10 Filipinos. Philippine officials have offered legal assistance to driver Kebeng.
Apart from the human casualties, the explosion also inflicted a heavy loss of property, estimated to exceed SR 300 million so far.