Updated at 6pm to include more information from the scene of the incident.
At least four people have apparently been killed and several more injured this afternoon following a crash at a crowded Karwa bus station in Old Ghanim, near Souq Waqif.
Witnesses at the station told Doha News that the accident took place around 12:30pm, when a bus crashed through concrete barriers, striking and running over people who were standing nearby.
Mowasalat staff at the station declined to comment on what happened, referring the matter to the company’s public relations department, which was not immediately available. Police quickly moved in to rope off the area following the accident, according to witnesses.
Though the number of the deceased and injured cannot be confirmed, a photo circulating on Whatsapp shows two men lying still on the ground at the scene of the accident.
One is underneath the bus, and one appears to have been struck by the back end. Doha News is not publishing the photo out of respect for the deceased.
Another photo clearly shows the bus had plowed through concrete barriers, striking people and a taxi before coming to a rest.
Friday is one of the busiest days at the station, because many people have the day off and flock there to use the public transportation.
According to a witness, the bus was arriving from Al Gharafa and had unloaded its passengers at another part of the busy terminal before pulling in to pick up passengers for its return trip.
The main passenger area of the site consists of a long concrete island with a single lane running along one side and a large paved lot for buses to idle, turn around and collect passengers on the other.
This particular bus was pulling into the stop marked for routes 56 and 156.
Photos taken after the crash and damage at the scene suggest that the bus climbed over a parking block, jumped the curb, crashed through two large concrete barriers, drove through the passenger island and came to a stop in the adjacent parking lot after t-boning a taxi cab.
It is not clear what caused the accident, though one witness said he observed the bus accelerating at the last moment.
The witness was critical of the layout and design of the bus terminal. He pointed out that the concrete barriers are placed some six to eight feet away from the curb, and that the heavy passenger traffic meant many people are forced to walk outside the shielded area, between the barriers and the curb.
However, it’s not clear that moving the barriers outwards would have made a difference to today’s incident, given that the large concrete slabs failed to stop the bus.
By 3pm, operations appeared to have returned to normal at the bus terminal, where several security guards yelled, with mixed results, at waiting passengers to stay off the paved lot and instead queue on the passenger island.
This is not the first time a bus has lost control and struck commuters in Doha. Last summer, a vehicle drove into a crowd of people at the same station, injuring more than a dozen after the driver apparently lost control of his bus.
A patient in the hospital told Doha News at the time that he was sitting in the shelter when the bus rammed into him, and the shelter collapsed. That incident took place on a Sunday evening in August, and there don’t appear to have been any deaths.
That driver had apparently hit the accelerator of the bus instead of the brake.
Does anyone know more? Thoughts?