x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Man arrested over triplets tragedy

Parents mourn two children who died after inhaling pesticide sprayed at neighbours' flat; despite her age, sister already misses them.

Hassan Bakari carries the body of his son Suhail at Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Ajman yesterday.
Hassan Bakari carries the body of his son Suhail at Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Ajman yesterday.

AJMAN // The parents of two baby triplets who died at the weekend after inhaling pesticide sprayed in their neighbours' flat spoke of their heartbreak as they prepared for their sons' burial yesterday.

The bodies of the five-month-old brothers, Suhail and Ali Bakari, arrived at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the afternoon, where they were washed by their distraught father before funeral prayers were heard. They were then taken by ambulance to Ajman Graveyard in Julfa, where they were buried. "Their memories are so strong, they have been with us for just a few months but we cannot keep up with the pain," said their father, Hassan Bakari, yesterday before the funeral.

"I don't know how my house is going to be now without the two of them." Their grief-stricken mother, Jamila Bakari, 21, said: "My only consolation is that my babies will be birds in heaven." Their words came as Ajman Police revealed that they had arrested a man from a pest control company, whose name has not been released. Fighting back tears before burying his babies yesterday, Mr Bakari, a Palestinian, said: "I am a believer and know this was Allah's decision, I pray that Allah gives my two sons paradise. I also know that Islam is against harming other people's lives, this is why I want to see action taken against the pest controllers."

The brothers, their sister Halla, and their parents took ill on Friday after their neighbours' home was fumigated by pest controllers the previous evening. They drove themselves to Sheikh Khalifa Hospital where they were given medication which initially seemed to have made them better. However, the boys' condition deteriorated again on Saturday. They died as Mr Bakari was driving them back to the hospital.

Halla, the third triplet, survived after being treated at the hospital for three days. Forensic blood tests have shown the family inhaled harmful chemicals from a pesticide, which entered their apartment in Naeemiya through an open kitchen window. Dozens of mourners attended the funeral service. At one point, family members rushed to Mr Bakari's assistance when he broke down while wrapping the tiny bodies in preparation for burial.

Mr Bakari said despite her age, Halla was missing her brothers. "Whenever one could cry they would all start crying at the same time and their mother would tell them 'stop crying, you boys [are] like a girl'." Clutching her daughter on the eve of the funeral, Mrs Bakari said: "I am grateful to Allah for saving at least one of my babies. I will protect her so much now, and tell her about her brothers."

Mrs Bakari, of Palestinian-Lebanese origin, said the family had moved to Ajman three months ago because of her husband's job after she gave birth in Abu Dhabi.  "I keep wondering if I had stayed in Abu Dhabi, how different it would have all turned out," she said. "I smelled the fumes in my kitchen and they were so strong and horrible. I don't want to blame or hate anyone, I just want the authorities to ban dangerous poisonous pesticides from ever being used again in residential areas."

Ali Bakari, the triplets' grandfather, came from Abu Dhabi for the burial. "One son had been named after me, he [looked] exactly like me and I was so proud of him," he said. He said he had been praying for his family to be strong. Mohammed Bakari, the boys' uncle, said the family had come together to support one another. "We all understand [these are] very trying moments for them, the whole family is devastated, we all liked the triplets. I had not seen them before and suddenly my brother had them, and now they are gone before we started playing," he said.

It is not yet clear what the pest controllers were trying to eradicate, nor which chemicals they were using. Brig Ali Alwan, the head of Ajman Police, said the investigation was continuing. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae rghazal@thenational.ae