x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Five killed in Bahrain apartment block blaze

Two families have been left devastated after a fire in East Riffa, about 15km south of the capital, Manama, early yesterday.

EAST RIFFAH, BAHRAIN // Two families have been left devastated after a blaze struck a residential building in East Riffa, about 15km south of the capital, Manama, early yesterday, killing five people. Four members of one family perished in the fire while a couple lost their only child. One official yesterday said faulty electrical wiring may have been the cause, leading to calls for better installation and inspection procedures.

The victims were staying in a two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of the building, which police said housed around 20 people, when the blaze trapped most of the family as they slept. A 73-year-old Bahraini man and his 58-year-old Sir Lankan wife died in their bed. The wife's nieces, ages 26 and 32, and a Pakistani girl, about five, who was staying with the family for the night, apparently attempted to flee, but were overcome by smoke, a police source said.

The man, his wife, the 32-year-old woman and the girl were pronounced dead at the scene; the younger niece was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. The man's two stepsons, 39 and 40, who were staying in a second room managed to escape the 1am blaze unharmed, after failing to reach the rest of their family. "When we woke up, the blaze and smoke were engulfing the entrance of the building; we got out but they couldn't," one of the traumatised brothers told investigators at the scene as he overlooked the bodies of his deceased family, which were surrounded by firefighters and investigators.

The Pakistani girl, about whom details were not made public, was reported to be staying with the family for the night at the request of her father. Sources said the father had been working a late shift and her mother was in hospital giving birth to another child. Riffa's municipal council representative, Waleed Hijris, said in an interview that initial indications suggest the fire was caused by bad electrical wiring.

"This was a sad tragedy that could have been averted. We need to have more awareness campaigns carried out among the public to alert them to the dangers of bad and incorrect electrical wiring as well as taking action against the vendors who carry out such jobs," he said. No official cause for the fire has yet been identified by investigators. mmahdi@thenational.ae