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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Broken spinal chord and 90 per cent burns afflict Mussaffah fire injured

After 10 died and eight were injured, the relatives of workers are left to try to pick up the pieces of shattered lives.
Mohammad Solaiman tends to his injured nephew, Didar Alam, at Al Mafraq Hospital. Mr Alam broke his back escaping the Mussaffah fire last Friday. Families of victims are mourning their losses, while survivors’ relatives have rallied to offer help. Ravindranath K / The National
Mohammad Solaiman tends to his injured nephew, Didar Alam, at Al Mafraq Hospital. Mr Alam broke his back escaping the Mussaffah fire last Friday. Families of victims are mourning their losses, while survivors’ relatives have rallied to offer help. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // One of the men injured in the Mussaffah fire last weekend broke his spinal cord after jumping out of a window to safety, while another has burns on more than 90 per cent of his body and is clinging to life, relatives said.

Ten died and eight were injured in the fire that ripped through business premises and illegal accommodation last Friday.

Six of the injured remain at Al Mafraq Hospital – 3 Indians and 3 Bangladeshis – and some of them are fighting for their lives.

Mohammed Ismail, 45, is still in the intensive care unit, said his nephew, Mohammed Ilyas, who has been by his side since the tragedy.

“Since Friday I’ve been with my uncle at the hospital to take care of him but his condition is still the same and doesn’t show any improvement,” said Mr Ilyas.

Mr Ismail has four daughters and a son aged 6. Only 20 days ago, he attended the wedding of one of his daughters.

“It’s going to be a huge burden on his family, who are very troubled as he was the only breadwinner,” said Mr Ilyas, who also managed to escape the fire at an industrial estate.

“Yesterday [Wednesday], Ismail had a high fever and was moaning because of severe pain.”

Many of the men who died – 3 Bangladeshis, 3 Syrians, 2 Pakistanis, 1 Indian and 1 unknown – were the sole breadwinners. Their families’ futures are bleak.

Mohammed Solaiman, the uncle of injured Didar Alam, 29, said: “Didar jumped out to safety from first floor and broke his backbone.”

Mr Alam has a one-month old daughter, said Mr Solaiman, a welder.

“Now his wife calls every day to enquire about the health of her husband,” the 45-year-old said.

Mr Alam has worked as a mechanic in Mussaffah for five years and earned Dh2,132 a month.

“Now, all sorts of earnings suddenly stopped, let’s see how we can help him,” said Mr Solaiman, who has been at his nephew’s bedside.

For others, a glimmer of light can be seen at the end of the tunnel.

Mohammed Shohel said his nephew, Mohammed Moinuddin, is now responding to treatment well after he broke ribs when jumping out of a window to escape the fire.

“Thank God, he seems good now,” Mr Shohel said.

Mr Moinuddin has two sons, aged 4 and 9, and a daughter aged 15. He owned a spare parts shop in Mussaffah.

All six Bangladeshi victims – the three who died and the three injured – are from the same village, Noapara, in Raozan, Chittagong.

The Bangladesh embassy in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday confirmed that the three dead will be repatriated to Chittagong for their funerals.

Mohammed Arman Ullah Chowdhury, the labour counsellor at the embassy, said funeral prayers will be performed once the bodies reach there early on Saturday morning.

The families of the men have been informed, Mr Chowdhury said.

All costs associated with the repatriation of bodies are being paid for by the embassy, he said, and that those injured are being assisted by the embassy with treatment costs.

According to the Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi, three of their nationals injured – Nawab Khan, Mohammed Farooq and Maan Khan, all from Rajasthan – are being treated at Al Mafraq Hospital.

anwar@thenational.ae