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07 February 2008

blood runs red on the highway

the past few days have been weird. two stories i have that i didn't see happen directly, but saw the result of one. neither of them are very happy stories.

<story 1> (i heard this second hand from an italian who's english isn't perfect so there may be some inconsistencies): our labor contractor is led by an office of italians. TheHeadItalian was leaving site to go to cairo for a meeting when a commotion happened at the tollgate just down the road. i don't know the exact details of the commotion other than it involved armed police, possibly armed and drug-possessing bedouins, and TheHeadItalian's car. from what i could gather, there were two trucks of bedouins that came out of the desert and tried to cross the tollgate without papers. the police were coincidentally at the toll gate, i'm not sure if they were tracking them, and they kind of came together at the same time as TheHeadItalian was going through the tolls. the police pulled guns and tried to stop the bedouins, the bedouins were kind of pinned in between the tool booths, so the backed into TheHeadItalian's car, trying to escape. the police couldn't fire because TheHeadItalian was in the crossfire. since the bedouins couldn't get past, they ended up surrendering. it is rumored the police DID find drugs and automatic weapons with the bedouins. craziness! all right outside my plant.</story 1>

<story 2>this one isn't very happy either. we left this morning from the apartment at our usual time of 6:00AM. the drive is usually just about an hour going 100+ mph most of the way. i pop in my headphones and doze most of the trip, it's easier on the heart. today, we had fog. we've had a bit of fog for the past week or two, but today, it was THICK!!! i'm talking MAYBE six feet visibility. definitely not 100 mph weather. so we got on the highway, same ol', same ol', and made it about 30-40 minutes into our drive when the fog got thicker still, and we saw 6-7 people waving frantically for us to stop. we slowed down and saw that our colleagues' car had already stopped, so we pulled to the shoulder. the same 7 or so people were stopping all the cars behind us. we stepped out into the chill foggy morning to see what was going on. if anyone has seen "the mist" recently... it was like that. you didn't dare step too far from anyone else or you might lose sight of them totally.

our egyptian drivers translated to us that there was a very bad wreck up ahead in the fog. we were tempted to walk ahead, but were advised against it. we waited for a while, maybe 20 or 30 minutes, then word came we could go ahead. i figured it couldn't be that bad of an accident if that's all it took. we got into the cars and pulled away into the still peasoup-thick fog. we only made it maybe 100 yards before we were stopped again, and now we could see one of the vehicles. straddling the left lane of the highway (3 lanes in each direction) was a delivery truck, the entire front end smashed in, but again, that was all we could see. we got out and talked and contemplated looking ahead as loads of egyptians were walking ahead to see the damage. we wanted to rubberneck as well but we were advised against it by our onsite safety guy who was traveling along the same road at the same time as we were. some semi's and micro-buses tried to weave their way through but were stopped once they reached the wreckage. there were semi's, pickup trucks, and delivery vans scattered across all lanes of the highway ahead.

the safety guy was trying to arrange for a micro bus to pick us up on the other side of the highway and take us back to ma'adi, while TheSiteLead took a walk ahead on the shoulder to scope out the situation. upon his return, he'd decided that since we had 4WD SUVs, we would drive them 10 yards towards the center shoulder where the sand was firm, and we could drive around the carnage, and carnage it was. we got in the vehicles and made our way around the wreck. due to the thick fog and having to help direct our driver on how to drive in sand, i wasn't able to get a great look at the wreck, but what i did see wasn't pretty. one semi carrying gravel turned over onto a bus, one semi carrying bricks jack-knifed with the cab smashed in, several pickups battered to hell and back, another cargo semi on it's side blocking the entire road, and i saw several bodies covered in sheets. we got about 50 yards along the wreck when we came to a semi that had plowed into the center median so we had to cut back toward the road between that truck and another wrecked one in the left lane. once, we got around that, we were on our way, open highway all the way to work. we heard before we left that there were as many as 20 dead in the accident. it was awful in the fog alone, now that the fog has burnt off, i'm sure the site is even more gruesome. i didn't have my camera, so these pictures are from TheElectrical's camera phone. these are typical of the fog we encountered, and the last one is by far, the vehicle in the best shape of any of them.</story 2>

i'm going to hurghada for the arabic weekend (thursday/friday), it's on the red sea. we got hooked up with an excellent all-inclusive resort for $125/night. heading out at lunch. i need something nice to take my mind off this morning.

UPDATE: 25 people died according to the local paper.

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Blogger themom said...

Wow - stay safe please! Sounds like one helluva crash. Tell your driver to SLOW down!!!

6:12 AM, February 08, 2008  
Blogger themom said...

Hey - you lost your list of "other blogs sites!" What's up with that?

6:31 AM, February 08, 2008  
Blogger swedish chef dave said...


yeh i read all about the crash, sounded horrific, but eating and drinking all weekend will be grea to take the mind of others death and suffering, we havent had much fog, just a little, more of the arctic winds than anything else, dude these muslim drivers are looking for a glorious death so be careful

speak to you later

Dave of the desert

8:36 AM, February 08, 2008  
Blogger themom said... THIS LINK DESCRIBES THE CARNAGE FROM HUGE CRASH. Wow sounds so grisly.

6:50 PM, February 08, 2008  
Blogger Ami said...

Jo and I are watching the Oscars and thinking of you cause we remember how into it you were last year. :) Jo says there are no boob dresses this year so you're not missing much.

10:24 PM, February 24, 2008  
Blogger Ami said...

OMG, I hadn't read this post before I commented so flippantly last Sunday night. I'm so sorry. :( I hope you've been better in the last few weeks, you need to post! Where've you been?

2:35 AM, February 28, 2008  

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