x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Two men still missing as rescuers dig through rubble of Dubai warehouse blaze

The Al Sana Fashions warehouse in Al Quoz 3 was destroyed in a blaze that started around 11am yesterday. The two employees have not been seen since.

Firefighters struggle to put out a fire that broke out in a textile warehouse in Al Quoz. Razan Alzayani / The National
Firefighters struggle to put out a fire that broke out in a textile warehouse in Al Quoz. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI// Police are still searching for the bodies of two men believed to have been killed on Sunday morning in the fire that destroyed the textiles warehouse where they worked.

Fire and rescue teams were yesterday picking through the rubble of the headquarters of Al Sana Fashions in Al Quoz 3, behind the Gold and Diamond Park, in a bid to discover if the men were trapped in the building and died in the fire.

The two Al Sana employees have not been seen since the blaze and their colleagues say they are fearing the worst.

“We haven’t heard from them since the fire,” said one man who worked at the warehouse. “We think they might be dead, but we hope they’re still alive.”

An official from Dubai Police at the scene, who declined to be named, said no bodies had yet been found.

Employees who turned up at the gutted warehouse yesterday were kept away by police.

The fashion retailer, which has two large outlets in Dubai, as well as shops in Sharjah, Ras Al Khamiah, Fujairah, and branches in Doha and Muscat, could face severe stock shortages as a result of the blaze.

Mohammed Yusuf, a manager at the company, said on Sunday that the warehouse was the company’s only one for the UAE. Senior management could not be reached for comment.

A shop assistant at the Karama branch of Sana said yesterday that there was no extra stock at the shop, other than what was on the shelves.

“We normally get deliveries every day from the warehouse in Al Quoz, but that has stopped now,” he said.

A shop assistant in the Muscat branch said the store was also restocked from the warehouse in Dubai and that no similar facility existed in Oman.

Cedwyn Fernandes, a Dubai-based supply chain expert, said the loss of the only warehouse for such a wide network of outlets would be a major blow for the company.

“This is going to impact hugely their expenses,” he said. “The image of the stores could be affected and they could lose customers because they might not have the products that are needed.”

Mr Fernandes, who is also Dean of Academic Affairs at Emirates College of Technology, said one, albeit costly, solution for the company was to airfreight in goods based on demand until a new warehouse was available.

But he added the disruptions could have been avoided by operating a satellite warehouse with a portion of the stock.

“Normally companies look at it like an unnecessary expense, because it doesn’t normally come into play until something like this happens,” he said.

“A company should mitigate its risk by not concentrating everything in one location. In case of a problem, the financial loss far exceeds the expense of running a satellite warehouse.

“By not having an additional warehouse, the entire operation is now disrupted.

“The real lesson is that every company should look at its supply chain, and look at what risks there are.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae