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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

UAE mourns six children of Emirati family killed in Abu Dhabi blaze

Eight members of one family die in villa fire in Baniyas

Mourners at the funeral of Ali Al Ketheri's family at Baniyas Cemetery after eight people, six of them children, died in a fire on Tuesday, October 2. Victor Besa / The National 
Mourners at the funeral of Ali Al Ketheri's family at Baniyas Cemetery after eight people, six of them children, died in a fire on Tuesday, October 2. Victor Besa / The National 

A country was in mourning on Tuesday following the tragic deaths of eight members of one family in a fire.

Six children — one just a year old — and two women among those who were killed in a blaze that ripped through a villa in Baniyas.

The cause has yet to be determined but an electrical fault is suspected.

Ali Al Ketheri is head of the house and survived, while four others remain in a critical condition in hospital.

It is believed five of those who died were only visiting the villa and it is not clear which members of the family died.

Funeral prayers were held for the dead at Baniyas Cemetery Mosque on Tuesday evening.

Funeral prayers are carried out for the family of Ali Al Ketheri. Victor Besa / The National 
Funeral prayers are carried out for the family of Ali Al Ketheri. Victor Besa / The National 

More than 1,000 mourners gathered to pay their respects.

The bodies were removed one by one from two ambulances and were carried into the mosque on the shoulders of the grieving families, relatives and friends.

The mourners filled the Baniyas mosque and spilt outside as family, neighbours and friends rallied to support one another.

As darkness crept over the suburb, the bodies were then carried to the graveyard and buried alongside each other.

Many of the mourners did not know the Al Ketheri family personally but wanted to pay their respects.

“Muslims, we are all one,” said one mourner who did not wish to be named. “That is why we came.”

The charred inside of the villa that was engulfed in flames in Baniyas on Tuesday, October 2. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Police
The charred inside of the villa that was engulfed in flames in Baniyas on Tuesday, October 2. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Police

It is thought the fire started at 5am on the ground floor of the two-storey residence in the Abu Dhabi suburb.

It is believed Mr Al Ketheri went to a local mosque to pray and when he returned less than an hour later, saw the villa engulfed in smoke.

Family members were screaming for help from the first floor as fire ripped through the residence.

It is also believed a friend who returned with him from the mosque tried to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher, while neighbours tried to rescue people from the first floor.

Emergency services then arrived to tackle the blaze.

The deceased are believed to have died from smoke inhalation, and most died in hospital rather than in the house.

Mourners offer funeral prayers for the famiy of Ali Al Ketheri. Victor Besa / The National 
Mourners offer funeral prayers for the famiy of Ali Al Ketheri. Victor Besa / The National 

It is thought that the occupants were asleep when the fire started.

Osman Ahmed lives in the area and saw the smoke early on Tuesday on his way to work at 7am in Mohammed bin Zayed City.

“When I came back from the mosque, I saw the line of smoke,” said Mr Ahmed.

“Then I also saw the police coming."

Baniyas has a large Emirati and Arab population. here many Emiratis call home along with some Arab families. The villa has now been secured by police.

Mr Al Ketheri’s mother is still alive but is in a critical condition.

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Abu Dhabi Police expressed their condolences to the family.

Brig Gen Mohammed Al Ketbi, director general of civil defence in Abu Dhabi, called for everyone to comply with safety requirements and ensure fire extinguishers are properly maintained.

Authorities are taking fire prevention measures.

After a blaze in Fujairah that killed several children, Dubai said smart fire alarms would be installed in residential homes. Abu Dhabi is implementing similar plans.