BEIRUT: A Lebanese mother and her four daughters were killed when their car was hit by a military vehicle as they searched for fuel amid Lebanon’s petrol shortage.
The family were preparing to travel from southern Lebanon to Beirut airport this week to pick up the daughters’ father, who was expected to fly home from working abroad.
Fatima Koubeissi, her twins Tia and Lia, 4, and her two other daughters Aya, 13, and Zahra, 17, were killed when the military vehicle hit their car from behind on Monday night. Another relative, Hussein Zein, 22, who was driving their car, died on Tuesday from his injuries.
The sisters had not seen their father, Imad Hawile, since he went looking for a job in Liberia five months ago, their uncle Qassim Hawile told Arab News.
Amid a worsening economic crisis, Lebanon is suffering massive fuel shortages with long queues outside petrol stations leading to traffic jams on nearby roads.
Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces [ISF] traffic control section reported a number of recent accidents caused by petrol queues.
The family from Al-Sharqeyye village went searching for petrol on Monday afternoon to prepare for the journey to the airport on Wednesday.
“We have not been able to find petrol across the south,” Qassim said.
ISF’s traffic control said the accident involved five cars and took place on the Jeyye-Saida highway.
A cousin of Fatima told Arab News that the accident happened because of a “vehicle that came in the opposite direction of the road wanting to bypass a queue outside a petrol station.
“They (the mother and four daughters) died on the spot,” he said.
Qassim said his brother contracted malaria during his first month in Liberia and then a second time “so he decided to return for better medication.”
“We did not want my brother to know that his family died in the crash but he saw the news and images on Facebook,” said Qassim.
He said the funeral was expected to take place on Thursday.
The accident happened when their driver saw two BMWs rammed into each other so he stopped but the military vehicle came and hit them from the back, sending it into a pick-up truck, Qassim said.
Civil Defense and Red Cross teams attended the scene and moved the injured and the dead to nearby hospitals.
Petrol stations have been constantly low on subsidized petrol for weeks, but shortages worsened in June as people’s fears of rationing and shortages intensified, leading to a large number of petrol stations closing down.
A number of fistfights, heated arguments and shootings have taken place between irritated drivers.
Last week, three people were injured in an accident outside a petrol station where cars were queueing on the highway connecting Beirut to southern.