DUBAI //The owner of a dhow that yesterday caught fire for the second time in less than three months will definitely be fined, said Dubai Municipality.
The Bhakti Sagar, which first caught fire on February 18, was moored near municipality headquarters on the Deira side of Dubai Creek when a blaze broke out at 3.44pm.
There were 17 men on board. Four were working to fix the boat's engine and the rest were readying the ship to be towed to India for repairs. The men escaped unharmed by jumping on to neighbouring skips or into the water.
Dubai Municipality yesterday blamed Dubai Customs for granting the boat's owner, Bhagyoday Shipping Services, permission to carry out repairs on the Deira side of the creek. "We told the owner to take it to Al Jedaf or Rashid Port for maintenance," said Khalid Salem Selaiteen, head of the environmental emergency office. "But customs gave them the green light to keep it there."
Mr Selaiteen said the municipality would fine the owner for any damage the fire caused to the creek.
"Last time, we cancelled the fine. But now we will fine them. After we make the report, we can say what the fine amount will be," he said.
The ill-fated Bhakti Sagar was destroyed in February after a fire aboard a neighbouring dhow, containing about 170 barrels of petrol, spread and engulfed it.
Firoz Razzaq, captain of the Bhakti Sagar, was reportedly taken in by Dubai Police for questioning over yesterday's incident.
His father, Razzaq Issac, a crew member, said the ship was due to head to Gujarat in three days' time.
"For the past two months we've been carrying out engine repair work to take it back to India. A ship was being brought here to tow it to India," he said. "The fire started suddenly and no one knows from where it came from. It's just the owner's bad luck that the same boat caught fire again."
One Indian crew member, Ibrahim Suleiman, said he was tying the moorings when the fire started.
"I am lucky to survive. I jumped on to an adjacent boat to escape," he said. "The fire was intense and started from below. I was afraid for my life. This is the second time that the fire broke out on the ship.
"I am lucky to have survived twice. Crew members are shocked."
Fifteen barrels of diesel fuel stowed on the ship created a large plume of black smoke, and firefighters battled for more than two hours to bring the blaze under control.
Cargo worth Dh200,000 on the nearby dock was also destroyed.
The owner of the shipment, Iranian businessman Hussain Regi, said he was preparing to haul refrigerators, generators and electrical parts to Chabar, Iran, when his consignment caught fire.
"There is no insurance payout because it was sitting on the dock instead of in the boat," he said. "It's a huge loss for me."
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