x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

'My daughter is getting married next month and I had to rescue her dress'

Mansoor Sheikh says he was lucky; the fire damaged only his sofa and a few other bits of furniture.

Residents walk out of Tamweel Tower with valuables they have recovered.
Residents walk out of Tamweel Tower with valuables they have recovered.

Mansoor Sheikh waded carefully though the cladding and debris at the foot of the charred tower yesterday afternoon, carrying his few remaining belongings.

Having been briefly allowed into his four-bedroom apartment in Tamweel Tower to pick up some essential items, the 51-year-old Indian was returning to his room in the Bonnington hotel, where he is now staying with his wife and two daughters.

He was lucky, he says; the fire damaged only his sofa and a few other bits of furniture. And while the floor was waterlogged, his documents and electronics were safe.

Moreover, his daughter's wedding dress was unscathed. "She is getting married next month. I had to rescue her dress for her or else I would not be able to go home," he said.

"Personally, as a tenant, I only lost a couple of pieces of furniture. The living room was wet because of the water sprinkler but there was nothing flooded."

Residents of the 34-storey tower were let in one by one, a floor at a time, yesterday afternoon. Those sitting waiting, some still in their pyjamas, lived on the higher floors and feared the worst.

Ahmed Naseer lived on the 10th floor. "I just grabbed my kids' stuff and sentimental things but didn't get a chance to look around. It was a little bit dark. There was still too much smoke," he said. "I have been here six years and there is a lot of sentimental stuff in there."

His car was still parked next to the tower, surrounded by pieces of burnt aluminium cladding. It, and others, remain cordoned off, having been badly damaged by the falling debris.

A Jordanian resident, who did not want to be named, grabbed the essentials for his six-year-old son, who was due to return to school today.

"I got the important things," he said. "Passports, the gold, the children's box for the school, my laptop and my wife's laptop."

But not clothes. Having escaped in his pyjamas, he went to a mall yesterday morning to buy something to wear.

Sal Rihani, a 37-year-old American, managed to grab his passport, hard drive and cat as he fled.

But having inspected the flat yesterday afternoon, retrieving a suitcase and a few days' clothes, he said the damage was less than he had feared. "There is a little smoke damage and a lot of water damage," he said. "We lost some belongings but nothing memorable. Just material stuff.

"We collect a lot of memorabilia from travelling and have a lot of antiques like paintings from Bali and all kinds of places that mean a lot to us. Most of it is all OK and can be repaired."

eharnan@thenational.ae