x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

927 workers lose belongings in labour camp blaze

Around 2,000 workers had to be moved into new accommodation following the weekend fire.

More than 900 workers have lost their belongings in a fire at a labour camp.

No one was injured in the blaze, which began about 2pm on Friday at the camp in Al Gharbia, but 280 rooms were destroyed.

“Some workers said their clothes were burnt and others said they lost cash and gold,” said Ismail Al Hosani, spokesman for Associated Construction & Investments (Ascon).

The camp, between Gayathi and Ruwais, housed road maintenance, landscaping and oilfield workers. About 2,000 men from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh lived there, with 927 of them losing belongings.

Rajjabul Kareem, a cleaner from Bangladesh, was about to eat after Friday prayers when the fire began.

“There was a total commotion. People were screaming and running in fear,” Mr Kareem said.

“We tried to douse the fire with extinguishers but it was not possible. Thank God no one was injured or died in the accident, and thank God it was during the day and not when we were sleeping. It would have been a big disaster.”

Mr Kareem lost cash and clothes in the fire. “I had saved Dh500 to send to my country. It’s all gone.”

Ascon said it would help those in need. “We are preparing a list of what was lost to help the workers,” Mr Al Hosani said.

The company also gave each worker Dh50 to buy food immediately after the accident. “We immediately shifted all the labourers to another camp and provided them with necessary things like clothes, blankets, toothbrushes and food,” Mr Al Hosani said.

Abu Dhabi Civil Defence is investigating. Mr Kareem said he did not know how the fire started but saw smoke in one area before flames engulfed seven blocks of cabins.

frahman@thenational.ae