Analysis, book reviews and photography from Abkhazia and the wider Caucasus --- updates when time permits

A horrible car crash in Almaty

I knew road accidents are a big problem in the former Soviet Union, from news stories and from seeing wrecks by the side of the road. The Uzbek government even puts up signs that show car wrecks along with the cause of the accident — speeding, use of mobile phone, overtaking. But nothing drives the point home like being a personal witness, as I have experienced thrice during the last 48 hours.

The first time was when, on Friday, our marshrutka from Kochkor to Bishkek only very narrowly avoided a head-on collision with an oncoming car that was on our lane as it was overtaking another car. Perhaps the driver was unaware that there would be opposing traffic on that lane, since for that short section, our original two lanes were closed for road works. As it is, our driver managed to break just enough for him to inch past.

The second time was when, that same evening, we saw on the streets of Bishkek the following sight: one marshrutka on its side and another one damaged. Fortunately, it looked like the accident was not as bad as it might have been.


The third time was by far the worst. Last night, on our way to the airport of Almaty, we drove past another accident site. I have tried to capture the impression in words.

There one man lies on the ground. I don't see any blood near his head, and see, he moves his legs, which is a good thing. But his is a strange movement — has someone instructed him to keep on treading the air or are these automatic reflexes of a malfunctioning body? There comes the ambulance, rolling slowly forward. Then the wreckage. A wreckage like the many wreckages put up alongside the road and displayed on signs, the front torn open. But containing four motionless bodies. Is it at all possible that these men are still alive? Sounds enter from outside. A woman wailing? There should be another car, but this is all I see.

Category: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Photography

Tagged: road rage, road safety, traffic accidents