The prologue to the 2016 Dakar Rally had to be halted after a crash involving a number of spectators that left some in a critical condition in hospital.
The X-raid Mini of Chinese debutant Guo Meiling went off the road just after the halfway point of the stage, and struck the spectators as they were watching the competitors, resulting in emergency crews being deployed to the scene to attend to the injured.
“The organisers immediately deployed all resources available to the site of the accident: four medical helicopters, three medical vehicles belonging to the organisers and eight local ambulances,” said an ASO statement.
“Injured individuals are likely to be swiftly taken to hospitals in the area following an initial medical evaluation by the organisers’ medical teams on the site.”
One of the spectators is in a serious condition, having seen their condition deteriorate overnight, and has been transferred to a hospital in Pergamino near Arrecifes.
A father and his ten-year-old son are also recovering in Hospital de Pilar, while a fourth has been moved to Hospital Alleman with a fractured femur. The remaining injured spectators have been discharged.
Fifty-nine of the 111 competitors in the car section had made it to the finish line of the seven-mile long prologue stage, a new addition to the rally in 2015.