(MENAFN - Arab News) Several witnesses including the driver of the fuel tanker, which crashed into an overpass on a busy road in the Saudi capital on Thursday, killing 22 persons and injuring 133 instantaneously, is being questioned by the Riyadh police.
The police investigation kicked off amid reports that the total loss of property caused by the fiery fuel tanker explosion will exceed SR 300 million leaving aside the insurance claims on the lives of those killed and injured during the accident.
"Around 90 people injured in the massive gas tanker explosion have left the local hospitals in good health, while another 43 are still under intensive medical care," said Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah here yesterday.
"A total of 10 persons including five Saudis are still in intensive care unit," said Al-Rabeeah. He noted that a total 133 people were injured as a result of the crash and explosion, while the total death toll is currently 22. "Our hearts go out to all the victims of this tragedy and we pray for them," said Al-Rabeeah. "We have been overwhelmed by the show of support for the victims and we wanted to let everyone know that we expect them to make a full recovery soon," he added.
Ezzedin Tago, Philippine ambassador, told Arab News that "the driver of the tanker has been identified as Robin Kebeng, a Filipino national. Kebeng has been working in the Kingdom for the last one year.
"The Philippine Embassy was refused consular access to the detained driver yesterday," said Tago, when asked to confirm the detention of the Filipino driver and the total number of Filipino workers in the hospitals. Tago said seven Filipino workers injured during the explosion were provided treatment in different city hospitals. Three were discharged yesterday.
The police arrested the truck driver, who is allegedly responsible for the gas truck explosion. Ambassador Tago said that he is not aware of the charges leveled against the driver. He said that the embassy will hire a lawyer to defend the driver. The envoy said the hospitalized OFWs were documented workers and therefore covered by medical insurance paid for by their employers. "We are coordinating with their employers to ensure that they are well assisted while they're at the hospital. We will coordinate with employers in case there are issues," he said.
The National Gas and Industrialization Company, owner of the gas tanker No. 845, which crashed on Thursday, said that the company adheres to regulations as regards to trucks and their shipments. In a statement, the company said that this incident will not have any impact on the services of providing gas at stations of the company.
Meanwhile, road and infrastructure safety throughout the Kingdom remains an issue. "While preliminary reports suggest the accident was an unusual, isolated incident, it begs the question as how safe are fuel tankers, how safe are our roads, and how safe are our commercial establishments and even houses," said Samuel John, a safety expert, while referring to another explosion here yesterday. Riyadh Civil Defense were called yesterday morning to deal with the explosion of a gas cylinder that leveled an external house extension and the boundary wall of a nearby villa in Riyadh. No casualties were reported.
A spokesman for the Civil Defense said the explosion was due to gas seeping from the cylinder in a villa extension in Al-Sahafah District in north Riyadh. He added the explosion caused the collapse of the extension, the outside wall, a part of the villa and shattered the villa windows. In addition, it inflicted damage to a building under construction, and shattered the windows of a nearby villa.