10 workers dead in Abu Dhabi building fire
Abu Dhabi: In one of the worst fires in the UAE, 10 people were killed and eight injured in an early morning blaze in the capital’s Musaffah area at a local tyre shop located in a two-storey building on Friday.
The ground floor had seven stores and one car repair-shop and witnesses say five of the commercial units and the car repair shop were affected by the fire. The blaze spread to the upper level, which was being illegally used as a workers’ accommodation, police said.
“The 10 individuals who died were residing in the upper floor that was actually designed to be used as a warehouse, not a place of residence,” a statement by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said.
Police said the fire victims were of different nationalities.
Firefighters doused the fire and evacuated the building after receiving a tip-off at 3.44 am that a fire had broken out in three car repair shops in the Mussafah area of Abu Dhabi.
Civil Defence vehicles from the Musaffah’s main centre M14 and M33, Al Wathba, Al Maqta and Khalifa City B, all headed towards the scene. Quick Intervention Units from Khalifa City A and Mohammad Bin Zayed City in addition to patrols, ambulances, rescue, medical prevention and investigation teams all rushed to help.
Thick, black smoke surrounded the scene just behind the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), witnesses said. The bodies were transferred to the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), hospital employees reported.
The injured individuals were also taken to SKMC and Al Jazira Hospital for treatment. The Abu Dhabi Police arrested the building’s owner, and is in the process arresting the other suspects, including the building supervisor. The Abu Dhabi Civil Defense General Directorate had warned investors, workshop owners, and workers of the dangers associated with illegal housing, and indicated that they would show zero tolerance to those who disregard public safety conditions.
A full investigation is underway and the area has been cordoned off to conduct a forensic sweep to determine the fire’s origin. Victims were brought to public hospital, the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), at about 8am, said Nizam, a Bangladeshi worker who lives in Musaffah Industrial area. “We wanted to see what was happening, but the area was cordoned off by police personnel and I don’t know if anyone was really allowed to enter the hospital,” he said.
“We heard that some workers were shifted to buildings adjoining SKMC (which earlier housed Al Jazira Hospital) but we did not have access to them either,” he added. Sources at the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha), which manages public healthcare facilities in the emirate, were unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.
A doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that medical staff who were off duty had been asked to come in. “Many of us were asked to come to the hospital to help deal with the emergency cases,” he said.