x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Families stricken with grief after four boys drown at Abu Dhabi farm

Hassan Abdul Al Hakam Al Braiki held his dying son, Harbi, 12, in his arms before the boy were pronounced dead

Harbi Al Braiki, 12. Yasser Al Braiki
Harbi Al Braiki, 12. Yasser Al Braiki

The families of the four boys who drowned at a farm in Abu Dhabi have told of their grief and shock.

Emirati Hassan Abdul Al Hakam Al Braiki held his dying son, Harbi, 12, in his arms in the ambulance before the boy was pronounced dead at Al Rahba Hospital, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, on Sunday night.

Harbi’s friend Aseel Al Wejeeh, also 12, and two brothers Younes and Yahya Al Qodsi, aged 10 and 11, all died after falling into a 1.5-metre-deep water basin near where they were playing football during Eid Al Adha.

Habri’s cousin, Hassan, 10, witnessed the incident at 7pm on Sunday in Al Bahia. He said Harbi fell into the water, and one-by-one his friends jumped in to try to save him.

None of the boys could swim.

Hassan Abdul Al Hakam Al Braiki, father of Harbi, at his son's funeral. He questioned why there was no fence around the water basin. Vidhyaa for The National
Hassan Abdul Al Hakam Al Braiki, father of Harbi, at his son's funeral. He questioned why there was no fence around the water basin. Vidhyaa for The National

Mr Al Braiki told of his horror and disbelief upon hearing about what happened.

“This incident is tragic. Everyone is extremely saddened and in a state of shock,” said Mr Al Braiki, who is in his 50s and works for a federal authority in Abu Dhabi.

Read more: Four children drown in Abu Dhabi farm accident

“I received a phone call from one of my family members saying that my child drowned in a pond in my neighbour’s farm. At that time, I was almost one hour away from home. I immediately called police and reported the incident.

“Once I reached there, I found police and civil defence present. They handed me my son and I carried him. I entered the ambulance vehicle carrying my son. We reached Al Rahba Hospital and they tried everything, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation and artificial ventilation.

“The medical emergency team in the hospital were trying to rescue the children for one and a half hours before announcing their deaths.”

He added that the children were pulled from the water by his nephew and farm workers.

Aseel Al Wejeeh, 12. Yasser Al Braiki
Aseel Al Wejeeh, 12. Yasser Al Braiki

Aseel’s father, Saleh Ibrahim Al Wejeeh, said he still couldn’t believe what has happened.

“I heard the news when I was praying Al Maghreb prayer at the mosque,” said the Yemeni. “I rushed to the farm and saw my child’s white shoe. I was screaming and crying saying my child is at the pond. A man jumped into the pond looking for the children. They didn’t know how to swim.”

Mr Al Wejeeh, a school bus driver for Emirates Transport in the Al Shahama area, had tears in his eyes as he spoke.

Younes and Yahya Al Qodsi, aged 10 and 11, died after falling into a pond in their neighbour’s farm in Al Bahia on Sunday. Yasser Al Braiki
Younes and Yahya Al Qodsi, aged 10 and 11, died after falling into a pond in their neighbour’s farm in Al Bahia on Sunday. Yasser Al Braiki

“The man who jumped to rescue the children found Yahya. A Bangladeshi worker in the farm jumped in the same side of the pond and found Aseel, my child, then they found Younes and Harbi,” he said.

The families and friends of the boys were grief-stricken by the incident.

Zakaria Al Qodsi, 13, has lost two younger brothers. “I miss my brothers, Yahya and Younes,” she said. “It hurts that I can’t see them anymore. Every member of the family is crying over their death.

“My mother passed out when she heard the news. A woman called my mother and told her that her children drowned after Al Maghreb prayers. She immediately went to the location of the pond and passed out. She was taken to Al Rahba Hospital. Her friends and aunts are with her, praying and reciting Quran.”

Hassan Al Braiki, 10, is the cousin of Harbi and was there when the boys fell into the body of water.

“We were playing together and found the farm’s door open. Harbi went to an area surrounding the pond and slipped and fell into it,” said the fourth grade pupil at Al Bahya Private School. “Yahya tried helping and fell. Then Younes tried to help and, after that, Aseel. I rushed to my family to tell them what happened. Everyone went to the farm where the incident took place.

“I was scared and rushed to tell my parents to help them. They were my closest friends.”

A police investigation into the incident is still under way.

“I request that the authorities investigate ... the farm. Especially as there’s no door to lock the farm or fence surrounding the pond,” said Mr Al Braiki.

“The farm is 300 metres away from my home and the children were being monitored by a family member.

"They always play football in the neighbourhood and we did not expect that there would be no door to lock the farm and that the children would find it easy to enter the farm and reach the pond.”