x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Blast residents still wait for windows

A Musaffah building wrecked by an explosion weeks ago still has no windows.

ABU DHABI // Residents of an Abu Dhabi building damaged by a gas explosion in November have been forced to live without windows for almost two months as they wait for the property management company to replace them.

All the windows in the seven-storey building in Musaffah's commercial area were shattered in the early hours of November 27 by the blast in a nearby building.

The apartment building is among 26 affected in the area, all managed by Abu Dhabi Commercial Properties (ADCP), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

ADCP says repairs will be made as early as next week.

Ajith Perera and his family were asleep when the force of the blast caused the bedroom window to fall on him and his wife, Gabrial, who is recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

Mr Perera, an artist, said he was "worried" that the gaping holes in their apartment could have repercussions on his wife's medical condition.

"I thought they would fix the windows within a few days or so, but it has been almost two months, so this a difficult situation," he said.

Their apartment is being inundated by dust and sand from a nearby construction site, according to the 48-year-old Sri Lankan, who also said they were being "eaten up" by mosquitoes.

His wife, who was unable to walk for a week after the incident, said it was like "living outside in the garden".

ADCP covered all the windows with plastic sheeting, but Mrs Perera said that solution was "not good enough", as it did not prevent her two young children from being able to crawl out of the window.

"They are very small, and I am so scared of leaving them alone in the house because they might fall out of the window; I can't go anywhere now without bringing them with me," she said.

According to a representative of ADCP, the window glass has been ordered from the manufacturer, and officials "expect the work will be executed within six days".

"We have been unable to accelerate this process, as all works have to be approved by the insurance companies and loss adjusters," the representative said.

According to the residents, there has been no communication from ADCP about the repairs.

"No information, no letters, no emails," Mr Perera said. "They should at least send out a letter telling us when the workers are coming to get the broken windows, but they didn't. We don't even know who took them."

Sangheeta Purushothaman, another resident in the building, said her husband had sent two emails to ADCP, but got no reply.

"It is difficult, because we cannot sleep at night as it gets so cold," said Mrs Purushothaman, an Indian who has two young children.

ADCP said it had been working to resolve the issue, but that the "most severely damaged" buildings would take longer to repair.

"Especially as several will have required items to be made to measure off site," the company representative said.

"This would include the aluminium casing for windows and special tempered glass."

Abu Dhabi Police are investigating the cause of the explosion, which destroyed 55 cars and left a mosque in ruins.

molson@thenational.ae