VELLORE: Despite forty hours passing after a road accident in Muscat, Oman, in which seven persons, including five from India (three from Vellore, one from Thanjavur, one from Kerala) died, aggrieved family members in Vellore have not received any official word either from the Ministry of External Affairs or from the Indian Embassy in Muscat.
The Vellore district administration has made every effort to contact the Embassy in Muscat and officials in Delhi and Chennai, but have been thwarted in their attempts to contact anyone and get more information. Two other persons who died were in the bus and were from Oman. Though it is the Ramzan weekend, Vellore district officials voiced their concernthat in such emergencies appropriate officials must communicate with aggrieved family members.
The three Vellore victims have been identified as Stephen Joseph (44) of Bagayam, M Divakar (24) of Palur and A Suresh (34) of Karai in Ranipet. The car in which they were travelling was involved in a head-on collision with a tourist bus near Haima between Salalah and Muscat around 5.30 am (7 am IST) on Saturday. They were returning from Salalah after spending the Ramzan vacation at a friend’s house.
Walter Nickson, a relative of Stephen Joseph, was the first to get the news about the tragic accident. The Indians were charred to death in the accident, according to Joseph’s friend John Kennedy, who is in Muscat. “A colleague of Joseph called me on Saturday evening to break the news. There has been no word from the embassy or the ministry so far,” he said.
Divakar’s brother Deva Prasad too said that there was no communication from the government. “We were shocked on hearing about the accident from his friends. We appeal to the government to take measures to bring back the bodies,” he said. While Joseph and Divakar were working as X-ray technicians in Life Line Hospital, Suresh was working as an X-ray technician in Royal Hospital, a government-run facility in Muscat.
Frantic calls by the district administration officials to several offices in Oman, Chennai and Delhi, including the Protector General of Emigrants, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Delhi, Joint Secretary (South) of Ministry of Overseas, Delhi, and Head of Branch Secretariat, MEA, Chennai, proved futile.
“We kept trying from the morning to confirm that residents of Vellore were involved in the accident, but in vain. We did not receive any information till 7 pm on Sunday,” an official said. “Even the office of the District Police did not receive any communication in this regard,” the official claimed. District administration officials faced the same hurdles in getting information during the evacuation of Indians from war-torn Yemen when nurses from Vellore were trapped there. Telephone numbers for those who wish to get more information are: Delhi (011-26874250, 24197984, 24674143/44); in Chennai the number 044-28252200 was out of order.