14ymedio, Havana, 19 May 2019 — In the late night hours of Sunday mornng three people died and 21 were injured in Havana after being run over by a classic American car, known on the island as an “almendrone*”, veered off the road and and climbed the sidewalk in the area of 23rd Street and the Malecón, a busy area during the early hours on weekends.
The director of Calixto García hospital, Edilberto González, explained that five of the injured people admitted remain in serious condition, four of them were operated on and a young woman is serious to critical. Three minors were referred to the Juan Manuel Márquez Pediatric Hospital.
So far, the names of three of the deceased have been announced: Ulises Canales López, Franklin Baket Hernández (52 years old and a resident in Guantanamo) and Osmany González Claro, 45 years old and residing in Guanabacoa, Havana.
In addition, he reported that among the injured people treated in that hospital are two foreigners with orthopedic injuries — whose identities and nationalities were not detailed in the report.
The specialist indicated that most of the injuries of the patients injured in by the crash were in the limbs, skull and trauma in the abdomen. The causes of the crash are being investigated by the authorities.
One of the witnesses of the crash told 14ymedio that “an American car lost its brakes, climbed the sidewalk and then continued along the wall, killing people.”
“It was horrible,” said the woman, still shocked by the crash. In the social networks videos and photographs are circulated where bodies can be seen on the ground with people shouting shortly after the events, while the police tried to cordon off the area.
This massive crash is one more in a series of crashes in Cuba. In 2018, 10,070 crashes were recorded in Cuba, leaving 683 dead and 7,730 injured, with a frequency of one every 52 minutes, according to data from the National Road Safety Commission.
The country has a high rate of traffic crashes attributed, among other factors, to the advanced age of the fleet (most of the vehicles in circulation are more than 20 years old and many more than 60 years old) and the precarious vehicle maintenance that is frequently carried out in an makeshift way.
During the mandatory inspections carried out in 2018, “technical deficiencies” were detected in 44% of the cars tested (63,966), mainly due to the braking system, steering and lights.
In addition, more than 36,000 vehicle circulation permits were withdrawn due to lact of updated technical checks.
Among the main causes of crashes, the National Road Safety Commission identifies improper overtaking, not paying attention to the control of the car, violation of the right of way, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and technical defects.
*Translator’s note: The classic American cars still common in Cuba are nicknamed “almendrones” in reference to their “almond” shape.
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