x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Eight people, including five children, killed in Oman house fire

The children, including twin blind sisters, were between the ages of five and 15

Eight people were killed when a fire broke out in their home (pictured) in the town of Barka, Al Batnah, Oman. Saleh Al Shaibany for The National
Eight people were killed when a fire broke out in their home (pictured) in the town of Barka, Al Batnah, Oman. Saleh Al Shaibany for The National

Eight people, most of whom were children, were killed in a fire that erupted in their home in Oman on Wednesday morning.

Police said that a 35-year-old Omani woman and her five daughters, that were between the ages of five and 15, were killed in the blaze in the town of Barka in the Al Batnah region.

The woman’s sister and an Ethiopian domestic worker were also killed in the fire, while the children’s father and uncle managed to escape.

Witnesses said the incident, which took place at about 4.30am, woke them up.

“I was awakened by the noise. From my bedroom window, all I could see was fire and thick smoke coming from the house,” one neighbour told The National. “There were two men standing outside, and they were very agitated. It was horrible.”

Among those killed were 10-year-old twin sisters, who were blind, witnesses said.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but police suspect it was a result of faulty electrical wiring. The incident marks the greatest number of causalities killed in a domestic fire, said the police.

In 2015, three Indian expatriates were killed in a fire that broke out in their home in Muscat due to a wiring fault.

Safety experts say poor electrical wiring in both private and commercial buildings is the major cause of fire in the country, adding it costs millions of rials in repairs a year.

“My estimate is that fire due to faulty electrical wiring in buildings and private houses causes more than 20 million rials (Dh19.45m) in damages every year in Oman,” said Ian Philips, head of Health Safety and Environment (HSE) at Modern College of Business and Science based in Muscat.

“Some contractors try to cut corners in electrical wiring by installing cheap materials and sub standards cables,” Mr Philips added.

Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) last month confirmed that there had been 1,205 cases of fire in various parts of the country in 2017 compared to 1,189 cases reported last year.