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FROM LEFT: Dr Dawood Al Bast, Qatar Red Crescent; Adel Al Baker, Qatar Red Crescent; Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani, QMSF President; Sami Abdullah Abu Shaikha, QMSF General Secretary, and Engineer Khalid bin Arhama Al Kuwari, QMSF board member, at the press conference at Marriott Hotel Doha, yesterday. (Kammutty VP)
by Armstrong Vas
Doha: A fact-finding committee of Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) has concluded that the ‘unfortunate incident’ in which Qatari powerboat racer Rashid Abdullah Al Mansouri died was purely a ‘race accident’.
QMSF officials denied claims there were shortcomings at the race venue at the Katara Cultural Village Beach, saying that all guidelines framed by international governing body for powerboat racing, Union International Montonautique (UIM), were followed.
Addressing a press conference here yesterday in the presence of Qatar Red Crescent officials, QMSF President Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani said: “As per the findings of the committee, it was a race accident and the Qatar Red Crescent and Coast Guard had followed all medical and safety regulations, which were necessary as per the needs of the hour.”
Sheikh Hassan said that the risk factor in powerboat racing was high and fatal accidents had happened in the past in international events.
“I cannot say that these things won’t happen again as this is a risky sport. We have had several races here in the past. The course at Katara Beach was a bit narrow last year and we had opened it up.
“As a result, all the boats were spread out and there was no chance of touching one another. So we had taken care of the safety,” added Sheikh Hassan.
The QMSF showed video clips of the race and a timeline of happenings on the fateful day to journalists.
The footage, repeatedly played on the request of journalists, showed the ill-fated boat going down to the surface with a big splash of water and two Coast Guard vehicles moving in to launch search and rescue operations.
Al Mansouri died when his boat flipped while taking a turn at the buoy during the third round of the pleasure boat race on February 16.
His co-driver Hamad Jassim Al Mutawa suffered injuries.
Although rescue personnel were at hand, all their efforts to revive the powerboat competitor, who had been racing since 2004, proved futile. Al Mansouri was taken to the Emergency Unit of the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), where he was pronounced dead.
“We tried to revive him but we could not feel his pulse,” said Dr Dawood Albast of Qatar Red Crescent. Another Qatar Red Crescent official, Adel Al Baker, was also present at the press conference.
Following a public outcry on radio talk shows and social media over the lack of medical and safety regulations during the race, Sheikh Hassan announced the formation of the fact-finding committee on February 20.
QMSF officials admitted that the deceased driver was taken to the shore on the boat of Kuwaiti competitor Mustafa Abdul Wahab Dashti, which perfectly fits into the rule book of UIM. “According to UIM rules, it is allowed (the rescue operation by the Kuwaiti driver), said Al Kuwari.
“The UIM rules state that when a race accident happens, the race must be stopped immediately and the competitor who is close to the accident must help in the rescue operations in whatever way he can. So in the Al Mansouri case, Mustafa Abdul Wahab Dashti was the one on whose boat Al Mansouri was brought to the shore. Besides Dashti, there were six Qatar Red Crescent personnel on the boat.
“It was a question of saving someone’s life and we cannot say, ‘you cannot take him on his boat (Kuwait driver’s boat), shift him to the Qatar Red Crescent boat’,” said Al Kuwari.
QMSF denied the allegations made by a couple of race competitors that there were no Coast Guard and Red Crescent officials present in the sea during the race.
“There were three boats of Coast Guard with three people on each, close to the boat which flipped. Two boats took part in search and rescue operations, when it took place and six Red Crescent personnel were on the boat belonging to the Kuwaiti driver, which brought Al Mansouri to the shore,” Al Kuwari added.
Two competitors, Yusuy Al Harmi of Qatar and Mansoour Al Fadala of Bahrain, who took part in the race and were present at the press conference, raised a few issues over safety and medical facilities at the venue on the fateful day. Al Harmi walked away in a huff, not satisfied with the replies from QMSF and Qatar Red Crescent officials.
The QMSF official admitted that copter services were not used during the race. “We have been racing since 1999 and we have never used a helicopter during the local races. Many accidents have taken place in the past during QMSF events, but this is the first time a tragedy has happened. Tragedies have happened in the past in powerboat races in international events,” added Al Kuwari. QMSF General Secretary Sami Abdullah Abu Sheikha was also present at the conference.