x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Tragedy as infant drowns in bucket of water

Father warns parents of risks after daughter Khadija dies in an accident that could have been avoided.

Nawaf Yousef Ali Johar with an image of his sister Khadija.
Nawaf Yousef Ali Johar with an image of his sister Khadija.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // A devastated father yesterday sent a warning to all parents after his toddler daughter died in an accident that could have been avoided.

Khadija Yousuf Ali Johar, 13 months, drowned on Friday evening after falling into a bucket filled with just 15 centimetres of water.

"Children are like flowers and must be taken care of all the time," said Yousuf Ali Johar, 35, an Islamic preacher and businessman in Ras Al Khaimah. "They are a symbol of true happiness and God's biggest gift."

Since the accident, Mr Johar said his family have been watching the other children much more closely.

"We never leave them alone," he said. "I advise all parents to do the same thing. Children are naughty and can play with dangerous things like knives or electric power. They must be observed all the time."

Khadija, the youngest of Mr Johar's seven children, was fed by her father before he left to pray at a nearby mosque just before 7pm.

When he returned about half an hour later, the family was desperately searching for the little girl.

She was found upside down in the bucket by her cousin. Family members tried to resuscitate her but their efforts were in vain.

She was pronounced dead at Al Saqr Hospital and was buried on Saturday morning.

"It has been difficult to digest the news that she is no more," her father said. The family, originally from the Sindh area of Pakistan but who have lived in the UAE since 1966, believe Khadija might have gone into the bathroom to wash her hands and spotted a bar of soap in the bucket. There was also a small stool used for bathing kept next to the bucket.

"There was a soap in the bucket," said Abdullah Ali Johar, the child's uncle.

"She might have bent in the bucket to clean her hands and accidentally fell inside."

According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in the UK, five children die in drowning accidents in the home each year in Britain, with two-thirds younger than 2.

"It is unfortunate that no one saw her entering the bathroom," added her uncle. "Even after she was found missing everyone thought that she might have gone out to play. No one thought this would happen. It's shocking."

Khadija's mother is currently pregnant with a girl, as is another of Mr Johar's wives.

"Though God has taken away one daughter, He is giving two more daughters to my brother," said Khadija's uncle. "Both his wives are pregnant. He is thankful to God all the time."

frahman@thenational.ae