TEST SESSION: Car veers off into spectators around midnight
PUTRAJAYA: The incident was said to have occurred when approximately 10,000 motorsports fans were watching the drag free run testing session around midnight in Lebuh Wadi Ehsan, Precinct 19 here.
The test session was taking place before the race proper. The race was part of the Millions of Youth gathering here.
Several cars had already completed their test sessions when the incident occurred.
Video clips uploaded on YouTube showed the car on the right lane of the two-lane road, with people standing to the left of the road and others standing behind the road divider on the right.
The car veered off to the right into the crowd standing behind the road divider.
The video clips showed many people rushing to the aid of the injured, with an ambulance showing up just over a minute later.
After being rushed to Putrajaya Hospital, four were admitted with serious injuries while the others only required outpatient treatment. However, it was not immediately known if the driver of the vehicle was among them.
The New Straits Times learned that three of the seriously injured were Muhammad Iskandar Rasiq Shaari, 20, Ami Nakim, 27, and Muhammad Fairuz Jalaluddin, also 27. The fourth had been transferred to Kuala Pilah Hospital.
Iskandar was the worst hurt and was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit. Suffering from internal bleeding, he underwent surgery and is now being monitored closely.
Ami suffered two broken legs and fractured his left arm, while Fairuz was still undergoing surgery at press time.
Iskandar and Ami's parents, when met at the hospital, said they did not blame anyone for what happened.
Iskandar's father Shaari Bujang, said his son was an avid motorsports fan, adding that all he was wishing for was the youth's recovery.
"I am not angry with my son because it has already happened. Neither am I blaming anyone. It was an unfortunate incident."
Shaari, 59, said he received the bad news around 1am and rushed here with his family from Negri Sembilan.
Ami's father, Nakim Bahari, 57, a Felda Bukit Rokan Barat settler, said he received the bad news around 1.30am. "I am sad that my son is warded but I am not angry with anyone. It was a tragedy, and I will not stop him from attending such activities either."
Earlier, speaking after visiting the victims, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said both Ami and Iskandar were in stable condition.
He said the ministry was ready to assist the families if they needed help.
"If need be, I am ready to discuss with the hospital on their medical cost or any medical expenses because the utmost importance is that they recover fully.
"However, this should not be viewed or translated as the ministry is taking the blame for the accident or is helping out as a form of compensation to the families because this issue should not be politicised."
He said he had instructed his officers to work with the organiser and police on the investigation.
"I have also asked for a detailed report on the incident and I hope that everyone will stop speculating on the accident.
"It is too early for me to say who is to be blamed or is in the wrong but the first preventive measure that the ministry took was to stop the drag race sessions immediately."
He said he would suggest to the cabinet that a proper drag racing track as long as 800m, complete with spectator seats, be built.
"I will speak to the cabinet as soon as possible. The suggestion had been brought up previously, but it was not approved.
"I feel that it is timely for us to build a track with proper facilities and safety features so that fans of motorsports can enjoy the race and also to avoid such accidents in the future," he said.
Asked if a sanctioning body governing drag racing would be set up in Malaysia, Shabery said the ministry would look into the matter.
Meanwhile, National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who expressed his regret over the incident, said safety aspects of the extreme motorsports should have been given serious consideration.
"The organiser should have pre-planned the safety aspects carefully as the drag race sport can pose serious danger."
He said spectators should have also been mindful of safe distances, given the nature of the sport.
"This incident should serve as a reminder for organisers of such extreme sports to take into consideration the standard operating procedure."