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Accident at Racetrack – 7 Dead, 20 Injured

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A deadly accident took place at the Fox Hill Supercross event in Diyatalawa on April 21, resulting in seven fatalities, including an eight-year-old girl, and four race officials, with 20 others suffering injuries, a few in critical condition.

The accident happened during one of 24 races hosted by the Sri Lankan Army and Sri Lanka Automobile Sports, which drew a crowd of approximately 45,000 spectators.

Two competing vehicles lost control, causing one to veer off the track and into a crowd at the Diyatalawa Military Academy. The academy is situated in Sri Lanka’s central tea-growing hills, roughly 110 miles east of the capital, Colombo.

Police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa said, “Initial reports indicate that the car involved suffered extensive damage upon impact, severely compromising the windshield and the roof structure. We are actively investigating the circumstances that led to this accident.”

Videos shared online depict immediate and frantic attempts by attendees to aid the victims.

Thalduwa added, “The race was temporarily halted as emergency services responded to the tragic scene. Our primary focus now is to understand the sequence of these events and the contributing factors that led to this crash.”

There had been a previous incident on the same track, where a vehicle overturned. Although there were no injuries in that incident, it served as a warning for potential risks, prompting race officials to increase caution by using yellow lights to manage the race’s speed.

A witness recalled the pandemonium, saying, “One of the cars tried to overtake another, lost control, and flipped. This seemed to trigger a chain reaction that led to the horrific crash into the spectator area.”

The accident has sparked substantial concerns about the sufficiency of safety measures in place at motorsport events, especially concerning spectator safety. “The event was returning after a five-year break due to the pandemic and economic challenges, and it was open to the public free of charge,” a local news outlet reported, underscoring the large crowd and the tragic aftermath.

The Fox Hill Supercross had started again amid much anticipation and was part of a larger effort by the Sri Lankan Army to engage the community through sports. However, this incident has now led to a reassessment of safety measures at such events. The Sri Lanka Army has formed a special investigation committee, while police have arrested two drivers for dangerous driving, highlighting the legal consequences following the accident.

A race official commented on the incident, stating, “The safety of our spectators and participants is paramount, and this incident will undoubtedly lead to stricter safety regulations at future events.” This reflects the need to enhance safety measures.

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