10 injured in Dakar Rally prologue after China's Guo Meiling veers off road

A speeding car has careened off the road and smashed into spectators during the prologue of the Dakar Rally in Argentina, leaving at least 10 people injured, five of them seriously.

Staff Reporter
3 January 2016, 10:35am
Chinese driver Guo Meiling lost control of her Mini during the opening day's action from Buenos Aires to Rosario
Chinese driver Guo Meiling lost control of her Mini during the opening day's action from Buenos Aires to Rosario
The incident, which involved the Mini of Chinese driver Guo Meiling, saw the prologue - which takes place before the first stage on Sunday - "neutralised" and immediately suspended in horrific scenes.

Guo's car veered off the course at the 6.6-kilometre mark of the 11km prologue on a stretch of straight country road near Arrecifes, a small town 200km from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

Race organisers immediately deployed four medical helicopters, three medical vehicles belonging to the organisers and eight local ambulances to the scene of the accident.

"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," organisers said.

A man and his 14-year-old son were the two most serious cases and had to be rushed to hospital, Carlos Mondino, the health secretary of Arrecifes, told channel Todo Noticias.

"In total, we had 10 patients, including four children and one pregnant woman, who is OK," said Daniel Modesto, head of the local hospital.

Etienne Lavigne, the race director, said in a statement that a dozen people were hurt, including Guo.

The accident left Guo's car battered, its bonnet strewn on the ground, as emergency workers carted the injured off on stretchers.

Between 50,000 and 60,000 people were expected along the route of the prologue.

In 2015, Polish motorbike rider Michal Hernik died at the end of a stage, but the last accident involving spectators at the Dakar Rally was in 2011, when one person was killed.