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Gas leak horror: Maid, 25, fighting for her life

A 25-year-old maid is fighting for her life following a villa blast in Al Barsha, as her sponsor’s family digs deep into their assets to save her

  • By Sharmila Dhal, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 22:56 July 25, 2012

  • Image Credit:
  • Blast site: Masood Salem shows the spot where the explosion took place inside the kitchen of his Al Barsha villa xpress/francois nel
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Dubai A 25-year-old maid is fighting for her life following a villa blast in Al Barsha, as her sponsor’s family digs deep into their assets to save her.

The Indian sponsor’s family told XPRESS their Ethiopian maid Azeb Abebe is on life support and heavy medication in Rashid Hospital. They said she had suffered “81 per cent second and third degree burns” in the blast on July 15 following a gas leak in the kitchen.

It was around 6.20am and we were all asleep in the main house when a big blast woke us up. We heard screams for help and ran to the windows which were shaking

Masood Salem, the sponsor’s brother

“It was around 6.20am and we were all asleep in the main house when a big blast woke us up. We heard screams for help and ran to the windows which were shaking. We realised from the gestures of our neighbours that there was something going on in our villa. My wife then saw our maid running in flames and screaming for help in the compound. By this time, some of us had already rushed out. It was a scene from hell. Standing at the main door was our maid, burning in flames from head to toe. We put a blanket around her and doused the flames...but just touching to console her burnt my mom’s fingers.. We called 999,” said Masood Salem, the sponsor’s brother.

He said the maid was preparing breakfast in the kitchen, a separate room from the main building. The blast blew the kitchen windows out, with glass pieces strewn as far as the main gate. Salem said electricity tripped out in the villa and two fire engines, besides the police and ambulance, rushed to the spot.

“A police report has confirmed the blast was due to a gas leak,” he said. An immediate comment was not available from the police.

When XPRESS visited the villa on Monday, the kitchen was not in use. The family was making do with a pantry in the main building. A plaster under the counter in the kitchen where the gas pipe leaked waited to be painted. Tell-tale signs lay elsewhere too: black marks of a clothes stand gutted outside the kitchen, a partially burnt dislodged air-conditioner and tiny pieces of glass sticking in the walls of the main building several metres away. Also seen were a used fire extinguisher and empty water bottles. A blue gas cylinder lay outside the kitchen.

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“It was a nightmare,” said Salem. “

We are three brothers living together with our families. There were four children under three years in the house, including my 10-day-old daughter, when the incident occurred. We rushed my wife and newborn to our uncle’s place in Abu Dhabi that same day. They returned a week later.”

Salem said Abebe had become part of the family. “We will do whatever we can to get her treated and help her family back in Ethiopia.”

The three brothers are IT executives. “What we earn is not enough to meet the expenses before us; we have already started digging into our assets to cover the initial hospital bills,” said Salem. “But this will cover just a fraction of the cost as we are looking at an estimated expense of Dh500,000 over the next three months.”

He said: “We have already liquidated bank term deposits, investments in personal gold and put up a car here and property back home up for sale. If necessary, we will take a personal loan as well.

“But we will still not be able to raise the entire amount. We are appealing for help from others and will be grateful for any assistance we can get,” said Salem, adding that an online forum has also been launched to help Abebe.


If you wish to help, write to

Stay Safe from Gas Leaks

• Recognise signs of a gas leak – they include a rotten egg smell, a hissing sound, flames if a leak has ignited, dirt blowing from a hole in the ground, bubbling in wet areas etc.

• Look out for soot buildup around burners or change in flame color from blue to yellow. They could signal a problem.

• Ensure periodic maintenance through certified agencies so that appliances, connections and gas lines are in proper working condition.

• Do not use an open flame, match stick or lighter if you suspect a gas leak.

• Know where the gas shutoff is located. Some people turn off the main if they suspect a leak due to smelling gas, but safety is key and if the smell is strong, vacate the house and call Emergency.

Comments (5)

Share your views
  1. Added 11:23 July 26, 2012

    This incident has raised alarm...this is something we just take for granted. How many of us get our gas pipes checked....we just depend on the smell...if there is smell there is a leakage but many times other red alert signs go un noticed....its very unfortunate to hear about the maid suffering. My prayers with her...

    Anjali Ramchandani, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 10:07 July 26, 2012

    Why in UAE there is no routine check for the appliances we use for cooking. Back in India(Mumbai), the Gas agencies do a routine check once every year for all consumer attached to the agency, some time forcing the consumer to change the Pipe and further the appliances if required.

    Taufique Ahmed, Abudhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 06:25 July 26, 2012

    I am sorry whats happened with this lady and I really hope she will recover soon. I am working since 30 years all over the world in this field and saw such connections only in 3rd world countries, without any safety -- rubber pipes with clamps are not allowed by law in developed countrys!

    Abel mikel, RAK, Austria

  4. Added 05:04 July 26, 2012

    Hope the maid recovers soon. Would be useful if GN shared the names and contact details of the certified agencies that can do the inspections for all the emirates. Usually it's just the uncertified and inexperienced local grocer that installs the gas cylinders and pipes.

    Tony, Abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 02:22 July 26, 2012

    Really a bad and shocking news....hope she gets well soon.......all our prayers r with her...!!

    AH, Abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates