Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Slow recovery for man injured in Saadiyat explosion

Residents express concern as cause remains unknown.
Barry Johnson, who was injured in a gas explosion. LinkedIn
Barry Johnson, who was injured in a gas explosion. LinkedIn

ABU DHABI // The man injured in a gas explosion at his Saadiyat Island apartment last week is showing signs of recovery.

Barry Johnson was preparing to eat dinner when the explosion tore through the fourth and fifth floors. Mr Johnson lived on the fourth floor.

Abu Dhabi Police are continuing an investigation into what may have caused the blast.

“I walked into the apartment with my dinner in a bag,” said Mr Johnson. “I turned on the lights of the living room, then went over to the kitchen. I turned on the overhead light there and that’s when everything exploded.”

Mr Johnson, in his 50s, is in a stable condition at Al Mafraq Hospital burns unit. He suffered severe burns all over his body, and was the only person injured in the incident.

“I think I’m stable like the doctors say, but I’m in a lot of pain,” he said. “The doctors said that I’ll need at least 25 days for my wounds to heal. Preventive measures are also being taken to prevent infections.”

A fire broke out in Mr Johnson’s flat after the explosion but was contained by the building’s sprinkler system.

An American expatriate, Mr Johnson moved to the UAE earlier this year. He works as a procurement manager for Etihad Airways and moved into his apartment this month.

The apartments at Saadiyat Beach Residences use central gas, and not canisters in the kitchens.

Before joining Etihad, Mr Johnson worked for Delta Airlines in Atlanta. His UAE colleagues and neighbours have been visiting him at the hospital, and his brother is expected to arrive from the US.

“Etihad have been fantastic – they’ve given absolutely brilliant support to Barry and his family and friends over this time, so they’ve got everything in hand,” said Dave Manners, an Etihad colleague.

“Etihad are involved A-to-Z and they have representatives looking at all the various aspects of the case.”

The blast shot glass and other debris through Building 1, damaging the fourth and fifth storeys.

Residents were displaced for several days. Some tenants from the blast floor are still being housed at the Anantara Eastern Mangroves by the Tourism Development and Investment Company. They are eager to find out what caused the explosion.

“It’s important to identify the error behind this because I believe it could’ve been prevented,” said L R, a neighbour of Mr Johnson. “A poor man was seriously injured because of this. We don’t need hard lessons and tragic stories to learn from our mistakes.”

Civil Defence has issued a list of safety guidelines following recent gas explosions in the capital. Residents in a building in Khalidiyah had to be evacuated after a gas-related explosion on Thursday.

“Safety is paramount,” said L R. “One mistake can have a ripple effect with a chain of sad circumstances and events.”

nalremeithi@thenational.ae

Updated: March 29, 2015 04:00 AM

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