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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Abu Dhabi labourers who lost everything in a camp fire being supported by other workers

An electrical short circuit at the camp destroyed a temporary block of 20 prefabricated rooms, which left 160 workers with only the clothes on their backs.
Mohammed Masood, from Pakistan, lives across from the units gutted in a fire at Al Reef Fibrex labour Camp on April 25, 2017. Mr Masood helped rescue fellow workers. Anwar Ahmad / The National
Mohammed Masood, from Pakistan, lives across from the units gutted in a fire at Al Reef Fibrex labour Camp on April 25, 2017. Mr Masood helped rescue fellow workers. Anwar Ahmad / The National

ABU DHABI // More than a hundred workers who had their dreams shattered when a fire destroyed their belongings and hard-earned savings are being helped by friends and colleagues.

One hundred and sixty workers were left with nothing after a fire ravaged their camp on Tuesday evening, leaving many with only the clothes they were wearing.

But thanks to the help of workers in the vicinity, they were rescued and are unscathed. They are getting by with the support of friends and sharing their accommodations.

“I was cooking food in the kitchen and then suddenly fire broke out and everybody started shouting. So we rushed to help others to escape the fire,” said Mohammed Masood, a Pakistani who lives near the fire-damaged units at the Al Reef Fibrex Camp.

He was involved in helping to save workers from the blaze.

An electrical short circuit caused the blaze, destroying the entire temporary block of 20 prefabricated rooms, each housing eight people, at the camp.

The camp, which is about 45 kilometres from downtown Abu Dhabi, is home to a few hundred workers.

“Now we need support so that we can buy the stuff and survive, otherwise how long can we depend on our friends?” said Pulak Raut, an Indian air-conditioning technician.

“It was hard to manage food for a day, then other friends offered to have me stay with them and share their food.”

Mr Raut, who arrived in the UAE two months ago, lost his savings in the fire.

The cluster of apartments was made of aluminum and metal. It had 10 rooms on the ground floor and 10 on the second floor.

The company has assured the affected workers that it would help them to buy new clothes and daily essentials.

“Previously I cook my food but now I am a burden to my friends,” said Omar Alam from Bangladesh, who earns Dh1,000 a month.

“Without anybody’s support it’s hard to survive. It’s been three days but no help has reached us.”

Indian carpenter Sandeep Singh had two months worth of savings, which his family needs to pay for his wife’s medical treatment.

Mr Singh, who has a monthly wage of Dh1,100, had been saving up for eight months before he lost everything.

“Here I don’t have money and my wife is so sick that I don’t want to continue. I didn’t tell my wife because she would be extremely tense in her sickness,” he said.

The fire started at about 6.45pm on Tuesday when most people had left for maghrib prayers and as others were busy preparing their meals.

anwar@thenational.ae