Shaikh Saif offers condolences to the bereaved family during a visit to Al Kotheiri’s residence in Baniyas. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Ali Salem Al Kotheiri is still in a state of disbelief over the loss of his children and family members.

Speaking of the fire that erupted in his villa on Tuesday morning that claimed the lives of eight of his family members, Al Kotheiri, the home owner, told Gulf News that he is grateful that his wife survived.

She is in the intensive care unit of Al Maraq hospital in Abu Dhabi.

More than 20 family members were sleeping in the house at the time of the fire. The deceased include his two children.

Ali has five children, of which two daughters died in the incident. They were aged 22 and 7.

Ali’s sister too died along with her three children Salem, 2, Ramis, 3 and Fatima, 3.

The seventh and eighth family members who died in the fire are his brother Thani Al Kotheiri’s wife and their daughter Fatima, 4.

“I thank God that 12 members of my family are alive,” Al Kotheiri said.

He had gone to perform his Fajr prayers on Tuesday and when he returned, he saw his house afire and filled with smoke.

All attempts to save his family were thwarted by the smoke and flames.

‘It’s a new villa but we don’t know how the fire erupted,” he said.

 My wife is in the ICU and I thank Allah that she is responding positively to the medications and that the other three members of my family are also fine.”

 - Ali Salem Al Kotheiri | Owner of the villa 

Baniyas is a densely populated old locality on the outskirts of the capital, comprised of mainly old villas where mostly Emiratis reside. Many of the homes are not equipped with fire alarm systems. Al Kotheiri’s villa too was not fitted with a fire alarm and smoke detectors.

“We were working to install it but it’s fate that the incident happened [before we could install it],” he said.

“My wife is in the ICU (intensive care unit) of the hospital and I thank Allah that she is responding positively to the medications and that the other three members of my family are also fine,” Al Kotheiri said.

He was hoping they would be discharged from hospital today (Wednesday).

Lt Gen Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, visited the family and offered his deepest condolences. Also, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance paid his respects to the family in Baniyas and met with Al Kotheiri’s family to offer his condolences.

Meanwhile, neighbours still can’t believe the scale of the human tragedy. Abdullah Al Mahrami said, “We tried hard to save them. We are astonished at how quickly the fire gutted the house and reached the second storey of the villa,” he said.

Al Mahrami also pointed out that most of the villas in Baniyas are old and not fitted with fire-alarm systems.