Building that caught fire in Abu Dhabi flouted safety regulations

Illegal bachelors lived there despite evacuation notice two years ago

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Abu Dhabi: It was an accident that was waiting to happen.

The Abu Dhabi building that caught fire, claiming three lives on Tuesday apparently flouted all safety norms and was earmarked for demolition two years back.

“There is no basic safety like fire extinguishers, fire alarm in the building. The stairwell was blocked with rubbish and broken furniture that made it impossible for people to escape,” said a senior Civil Defence official who was at the spot.

The tenants were also apparently slapped with an eviction notice in 2011 and electricity was cut off but they say the owner negotiated and got the license renewed within a week.

When XPRESS visited the building, the notice from the municipality was still up at the entrance of the nine-storey structure.

The building was mainly inhabited by bachelors from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. “There are 15 to 20 of us in a three-bedroom apartment and we pay Dh2000 per room as monthly rent,” said Mohammad Younis, a tenant.

Sameer Hassan, an Indian worker residing in the same building, said “We know the building is old and there is no safety standards. But as bachelors we have no better option if we want to live in the city,”

Earlier, when the fire broke out in the building on the 2nd Delma Street, a team of 40 firefighters arrived at the spot within minutes, evacuating 80 people from the third floor where two apartments were completely gutted.

The three Pakistani nationals who lived on the same floor however died on the spot.

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