Kart raceT RAGEDY

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ASH­WIN KU­MAR AND AZLAN RAMLI

KUAN­TAN: A man and his fiveyear-old daugh­ter were killed while his wife and son were among sev­eral oth­ers in­jured af­ter a race-kart went off the track and ploughed into spec­ta­tors dur­ing a race at I ndera Mahkota, near here yes­ter­day.

Izwan Isa, 39, died at the scene in the 11.30am in­ci­dent and his daugh­ter Nur Zu­laikha suc­cumbed to her in­juries at Tengku Am­puan Afzan Hos­pi­tal. Both had sus­tained se­vere head in­juries.

Izwan’s wife Siti Suhaiza Se­man and seven-year-old son Muham­mad Izz Da­nial sus­tained se­ri­ous in­juries. At least five other peo­ple were re­port­edly in­jured in the in­ci­dent dur­ing the Ed­u­ca­tion In­no­va­tion Mo­tor­sports and Au­to­mo­tive Race (Ei­marace) at the Sukpa Com­plex.

The tragedy oc­curred when a kart ap­par­ently went out of con­trol and crashed into plas­tic bar­ri­ers placed along the race track.

In an im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion, Ei­marace di­rec­tor Prof Amin­ud­din Abu said the spec­ta­tors who were in­volved in the i nci­dent should not have been stand­ing be­hind the plas­tic bar­ri­ers which was a re­stricted area.

“We ex­press our con­do­lences to

the af­fected fam­ily. (But) the spec­ta­tors were in a re­stricted area and brought this upon them­selves. Spec­ta­tors are sup­posed to sit at the al­lo­cated area,” he said.

Amin­ud­din said the event or­gan­is­ers will en­hance safety as­pects in fu­ture and will no longer hold such races in an open cir­cuit.

Ei­marace was or­gan­ised by Univer­siti Te­knologi Malaysia with the co­op­er­a­tion of Tourism Pa­hang to pro­mote mo­tor sports to the youth. The race was can­celled fol­low­ing the tragedy.

Mean­while, a wit­ness who de­clined to be named told theSun the af­fected fam­ily mem­bers were part of a crowd stand­ing at the shoul­der of the track bar­ri­ers to watch the race.

“The kart was driven by a racer who ap­par­ently lost con­trol of his 131cc racekart and smashed into the plas­tic bar­ri­ers be­fore crash­ing into the vic­tims,” he said.

Ne­ti­zens ques­tioned the safety as­pects and slammed the or­gan­is­ers for us­ing flimsy and un­ap­proved bar­ri­cades.

Safety mea­sures used to make race tracks safe in­clude en­ergy ab­sorb­ing bar­ri­ers and ve­hi­cle traps filled with soft ma­te­ri­als, sand­bags and old tyres.

Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Datuk Ra­zlan Razali said: “First of all, mo­tor sports is dan­ger­ous. Be­fore race or­gan­is­ers want to or­gan­ise a race, they would have to sub­mit their plans to the sanc­tion­ing body to make sure all as­pects of safety are be­ing taken care of. In this case, the body is the Mo­tor­sports As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (MAM).

“The safety as­pects in­clude the min­i­mum safe dis­tance be­tween spec­ta­tors and track.

“What I was in­formed was MAM of­fi­cials vis­ited the venue twice to make sure ev­ery­thing in the plan was com­plied with. How­ever, when it came to the race week­end, cer­tain things were not ob­served, and MAM even wanted to with­draw its sanc­tion­ing of the event.

“I can’t tell you what con­di­tions were not ful­filled, as I have yet to get the in­for­ma­tion on this. For what­ever rea­sons, the race pro­ceeded.

“Why was the race al­lowed to go on? It’s a state-sup­ported event, and my fear is that it was due to pres­sure from var­i­ous par­ties.”

As for the plas­tic bar­ri­ers lin­ing the track, Ra­zlan said, “I saw the video ... I’m cu­ri­ous to know why it’s like that. It’s on a straight with flimsy bar­ri­ers.

“Def­i­nitely, spec­ta­tors would not be safe. Safety was def­i­nitely com­pro­mised. Very tragic.”

MAM was es­tab­lished for the pur­pose of de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing mo­tor sports in Malaysia. It is a na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion that will as­sist clubs, event or­gan­is­ers, of­fi­cials, com­peti­tors, com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors and spon­sors to en­sure the growth of mo­tor sports.

Pa­hang po­lice traf­fic in­ves­ti­ga­tion and en­force­ment chief Supt Mohd Noor Yu­sof said the in­ci­dent oc­curred af­ter one of the race-kart driv­ers lost con­trol of the ve­hi­cle when it scraped two other karts and smashed into the bar­ri­ers be­fore hit­ting the vic­tims.

Mohd Noor said the de­part­ment had recorded state­ments from the three kart driv­ers, who were not in­jured in the in­ci­dent.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tors found that the event or­gan­is­ers had bar­ri­caded the race track with plas­tic bar­ri­cades and safety tape, alert­ing spec­ta­tors not to en­ter the re­stricted area.”

The race-kart that was in­volved in the fa­tal ac­ci­dent yes­ter­day.

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