x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Fear for labourers' lives after Dubai gas explosion

Gas explosion rocked workers accommodation in Al Quoz on Sunday night.

DUBAI// Eleven labourers were injured - six critically - when a faulty gas cylinder used for cooking began a series of explosions in their Al Quoz labour camp.

Fifteen men were preparing dinner in the communal first-floor kitchen of the three-storey Al Shafar National Contracting accommodation on Sunday night when the explosions happened.

The injured men - 10 of whom are from Bangladesh - were rushed to Rashid Hospital where they are receiving treatment for serious burns.

The six critically injured men include 27-year-old plumber Miza Mohammed and pipe layer Shafikul Islam, 26. Their relatives fear they may not survive.

"My brother's face has been completely burnt," said Maqbool Hussain, brother of Mr Mohammed.

"He has also sustained injuries on his back, legs and hands. He got burnt when he was running from his room on the second floor. His family is very worried about his condition."

Mr Islam was cooking when the explosion happened. Abu Syed, Mr Islam's cousin, said: "It's very difficult for him to make it. Doctors have asked me to pray. I feel very bad for him. His mother keeps ringing to find out how he is but what do I tell her?

"He has 85 per cent burns. His hair, face, chest, everything has been burnt."

Mohammed Bilal, whose room is opposite the kitchen, said he sounded the alarm when the fire started.

"I called out to everyone asking them to run," said Mr Bilal, a driver for another company. "I wanted to remove some of the gas cylinders because I knew it was dangerous - but the fire spread very quickly."

Yesterday, workers were still living in the camp despite the blast blowing out windows and shattering doors.

Maintenance teams were removing debris and could be seen loading slabs of stone from the kitchen onto a lorry.

"People are staying there," said a spokesman for Al Shafar. "The kitchen is being cleaned and rectified again."

He added the company is now considering banning cooking at the camp.

"We will be taking precautions. Maybe we'll look at not cooking there and supplying food from outside. In some of our camps, we do that."

Abu Zafar, the Bangladesh consul general, said: "We have advised the concerned ministry to contact families of the injured men. We are in touch with the workers and have offered assistance."

pkannan@thenational.ae