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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Horror crash in Genting

WHAT started out as a leisurely drive down the winding roads of Genting Highlands turned into a horrific nightmare for nine Singaporeans trapped in a minivan with no brakes.

Despite the handbrake being fully engaged, the rental van hurtled down the road, gaining speed all the time. It side-swiped several vehicles along the way and nearly careened off the road before finally crashing into a road divider.

The driver and four passengers were injured, two of them seriously. Still in a critical condition in a Kuala Lumpur hospital is a two-year-old girl who suffered internal injuries and had to have part of her intestines removed.

Her father, Mr Brandon Wong, in his 30s, has been transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he underwent surgery on Wednesday for his arm that was broken in at least four places. According to Malaysian transport company, Transtar Travel, which provided the minivan, the Malaysian driver is also in a serious condition.

The Lims and the Wongs were part of a group of five families - 10 adults and nine children between the ages of two and seven - who had gone up to a resort at Genting Highlands for the National Day long weekend.

The accident occurred on Monday afternoon, when they were heading to the airport in two rented minivans, for the flight back to Singapore.

As they began their descent from Genting, Mr Lim said they noticed that the driver was using the third and fourth gears, instead of the lower gears to keep his speed in check.

They knew they were in serious trouble when he heard the driver's reply to his suggestion to slow down. 'He said he had no brakes,' recounted Mr Lim. Frantic gear shifts did little to slow it down and instead the minivan picked up speed as the passengers braced themselves for impact.

Luckily, no one was trapped after the minivan crashed into the divider. Other motorists helped them out and the injured were taken to Kuala Lumpur Hospital. However, the families' troubles did not end there. According to Mr Lim, the Singapore embassy in KL was not helpful in their requests for assistance. Most of them made their way back to Singapore on their own on Tuesday.

In response, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeman said that the families received prompt and appropriate consular assistance. Staff in KL continue to assist the Wong family whose child is still warded in the KL Hospital, he added. Transtar Travel, which provided the vehicles, said it was sorry for what happened and that it was in touch with the families, but it is still looking into what went wrong.


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