3 Pakistanis among 16 dead in Dubai residential building fire: report

DUBAI (Agencies): Sixteen people, including three Pakistanis, were killed and nine were injured in a Dubai residential building fire on Saturday, local media said on Sunday.

The fire engulfed the five-storey building in the Al-Ras neighbourhood, one of the oldest parts of Dubai and home to many migrant workers and traders, on Saturday afternoon, according to Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National.

Local media said the fire had been put out.

“Preliminary investigations showed that lack of compliance with building security and safety requirements caused the fire” the National said citing a civil defence statement.

Naseer Vatanappally, an Indian social worker who was at the Dubai Police mortuary to help identify the victims on Saturday night, told the Khaleej Times that 12 out of the 16 people who died have been identified, including four Sudanese nationals, three Pakistani cousins, four Indians and one Cameroon national.

“Relatives, friends and colleagues of these 12 people came through the night to identify them,” the Khaleej Times quoted him as saying.

Terming it to be a “heartbreaking process”, he added, “I went home at 5am but had to return because I was the central point of contact for everyone coming.”

The Gulf News had quoted him saying that the four Indians included “a couple from Kerala and two men from Tamil Nadu who worked at the building”.

He said he was coordinating with Dubai Police, the Indian Consulate in Dubai, other diplomatic missions, and friends and relatives of the deceased.

The Foreign Office has yet to issue a statement confirming the deaths.

Additionally, Gulf News said that the fire broke out in an apartment located on the fourth floor of the building.

It said that teams from the Port Saeed Fire Station and the Hamriyah Fire Station provided backup to the firefighting operations, adding that the fire was brought under control at 2:42pm after which cooling operations were started.

The Gulf News reported the spokesperson for Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) as saying that urgent medical aid was being provided to the injured.

It added that the DCD teams had arrived at the site and had “started both evacuation and firefighting operations within six minutes of being notified”.

The spokesperson said preliminary investigations showed that the lack of compliance with building security and safety requirements had caused the fire.

“Relevant authorities are conducting a comprehensive investigation to provide a detailed report on the causes of the accident,” the Khaleej Times quoted him as saying.
Residents recount incident as building is sealed

The Khaleej Times, in another article, reported tenants present on the road at around 1am Sunday morning as they awaited to return home while the building had been sealed.

It said the residents sipped on a cup of tea, talked to each other, or read the Holy Quran as they awaited any news related to their apartments.

“Tenants of the first, second, and third floors escaped by the stairs or slid by a rope tied to the grills of their balconies. People residing on the fourth floor were unable to as the corridors were filled with smoke,” a tenant told the Khaleej Times.

The publication also quoted an eyewitness as saying that they saw flames billowing out of the building. A worker at a shop in the building told the news outlet that they heard a “loud bang”.

“We couldn’t figure out what was happening for a few minutes. But then we saw smoke and fire coming out of the window,” he told the Khaleej Times.

“There was smoke everywhere and we could not see anything. So we decided to exit the building and wait for the police.

“Fire engines, firemen and police officers were at the spot within minutes. They brought a crane and started helping people. Their swift action helped save many lives,” the Khaleej Times quoted him as saying.