Dakar fan dies after first-stage accident

A female spectator was killed after a vehicle taking part in the gruelling Dakar Rally crashed into a group of fans on Saturday, medical sources said.

Four other spectators were also hurt in the accident which happened near the town of Rio Cuarto, around 800km from Buenos Aires.

“A 28-year-old woman has died. She suffered serious injuries to the head as well as stomach and pelvis,” Norberto Brusa, a doctor at the Cordoba hospital told TN television.

“She suffered two heart attacks during her transfer to the hospital. Despite our best efforts, she died soon after arriving.”

Of the four people injured, two were were airlifted along with the woman to Cordoba from the rally course.

“A young man of 24 suffered leg fractures while a child was taken to a paediatric ward and is in a stable condition,” added Brusa.

“Two others have less serious injuries.”

The accident, which happened during the opening stage of the 2010 event between Buenos Aires and here, involved a 4×4 vehicle driven by German-Swiss duo Mirco Schultis and Ulrich Leardi.

“Competitor number 418 [Schultis-Leardi] collided with a group of spectators at the 75km mark of the special stage outside the ‘public zone’ [a secured area reserved for spectators],” said a statement released by the organisers before the fatality was

The Dakar Rally, which was switched to South America last year because of increasing security concerns in its traditional African home, is widely-regarded as one of the most dangerous motorsports events in the world.

In 2009, French motorcyclist Pascal Terry was killed while racing in the fourth stage while two men died when their support truck was involved in a collision with another vehicle in Chile.

Since the race’s inception in 1979, more than 50 people involved in the event have been killed. – AFP

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