Fujairah: An Emirati mother who lost seven children in a fire at their house near Dibba Fujairah on January 22, 2018, has been charged with negligence over the incident and a verdict is expected on November 18.
Salima Al Suraidi told police she was at home at the time of the fire in Rul Dhadna, which was caused by faulty living room lights, but police soon discovered that she was out and had locked her children inside a room, where they suffocated due to the blaze.
Having lost her husband to cancer in 2014, Salima was left to bring up her seven children alone.
Prosecutors charged the mother with negligence under the 2016 Wadeema Law, which safeguards children in the UAE from neglect and abuse, and over the past year she has been appearing at Dibba Al Fujairah Court.
In an unprecedented case under the new law, she could now face jail time and be ordered to pay blood money, following the deaths of her four girls and three boys, who were aged between five and 13-years-old, including two twin girls aged five.
“All my children died and I could not do anything for them,” the mother in her 40s had told Gulf News at the time of the incident.
After putting them to bed at around 10pm, she said, “At 3.45am, I woke up as I was having difficulty in breathing. The room was pitch dark. So I switched on my mobile phone light and saw my daughter Shouk, who was sleeping next to me, with a fixed stare, unmoving.
“I went to my twin daughters Sumaiya and Sara and found them dead. I then went to my daughter Shaikha who was sleeping next to her sister in the same room to find her breathing her last.
“I then rushed to the other room where my three sons slept to find my sons Khalifa and Ahmad dead, but Ali was still fighting for his life. He walked to the living room where he fell unconscious and died.”
After calling out for help, she said, “My brother rushed to my house and by then a thick smoke had engulfed the house. He covered his face with his ghotra (headdress) as he tried to save my children but they had already died of suffocation.”
Colonel Saif Rashid Al Zahmi, Director of Dibba Fujairah Police, confirmed to Gulf News that “lights were the cause of the fire.”
And Major-General Mohammad Ganem Al Kaabi, Commander-in-Chief of Fujairah Police, said they received an emergency call all too late, at 5.40am, making it difficult to save the children despite arriving on scene in record time.
Following this incident Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, directed UAE Civil Defence to immediately install fire alarm systems into every home at the expense of the government for those who can’t afford it.
In October of last year the Ministry of Interior launched a centralised smart fire alarm system called Hassantuk, which means ‘protect you’, to connect villas and home alarm systems across the country directly to emergency operation rooms.
Names of the seven children
Shouk Saeed Rabiaa, Grade 8, Al Raheeb school
Khalifa Saeed Rabiaa, Grade 7, Anas bin Al Nadhair school
Ahmad Saeed Rabiaa, Grade 5, Dhadna school
Shaikha Saeed Rabiaa, Grade 4, Al Ma’rifa school
Ali Saeed Rabiaa, Grade 3, Dhadna school
Sara Saeed Rabiaa, KG1, Al Dana kindergarten
Sumaiyah Saeed Rabiaa, KG1, Al Dana kindergarten