Residents seen wearing face masks after exiting towering inferno in Sharjah
Residents seen wearing face masks after exiting towering inferno in Sharjah Image Credit: Aghaddir Ali, Reporter

Sharjah: They left their valuables behind including passport, gold and silver items, cash and more. But they did not forget one thing – besides themselves and their loved ones of course – their face masks.

In some heartening images of residents from the fire ravaged Abbco Tower, making a hurried dash out of a burning tower in a bid to save their lives, you will see panic written on their faces and a face mask trying to hide it as much as it can.

Residents forget wallets but not their masks S Image Credit: Faisal Masudi / Gulf News

Amna Adil, a Pakistani expat who lives on the 38th floor of the tower said she forgot to pick up valuables like jewellery from her apartment. All she did was take the family’s passport, Emirates IDs and face masks. “Even as there was panic everywhere and in the house, we all picked up our face masks in order to adhere to the measures laid down by the UAE government to curb the spread of coronavirus.”

Adil who spent Tuesday night in a hotel accommodation said she has no clue what the future holds. “Today we have to shop for clothes and basic essentials. All this is an added cost on us. Added to this with the coronavirus situation we have an added responsibility to maintain social distancing even when in a panic situation.”

Jahanzib Jameel, Pakistani expat too said the only things he could think of while hurrying out of his apartment was his wallet, face mask and of course his family. “In all the panic I did not want to create more trouble by not wearing a mask and adhering to the social distancing rules,” he said.

Residents do not forget their social distancing rules while escaping a building on fire Image Credit: Faisal Masudi / Gulf News

Counting the losses

A day after the fire, Jameel who has been assessing his situation said he might have lost personal belongings and home contents worth several thousands of dirhams. “I left behind silver and gold items, important documents, my passport and more. I am assuming I have lost all this as my apartment is on the side that was damaged most in the fire.”

On Tuesday night (May 5), Jameel told Gulf News he was concerned about his vehicle parked in the basement. “On Wednesday morning the basement area looked fine from a distance as we were not allowed to go near the building. I will know more when we are allowed back into the building.”

It is the same situation with Dr. Ajay Prabhu – a dentist. The tenant of a studio apartment in the fire ravaged tower, paying a rent of Dh18,000 per annum, Prabhu said he too has lost valuables worth thousands. “Important documents like my marriage and educational certificates, cash close to Dh1,000 cash, some silver items are all in my house. I am not sure if they have survived the fire.”

Residents take toll of their losses after the fire Image Credit: Faisal Masudi / Gulf News

Prabhu said he has never thought about taking a home contents insurance. “It is difficult to save here, how can I put money for insurance.”

According to Mir Waqas Ellahi, chairman & ceo, Joie de Vivre International Insurance Brokerage LLC, home contents insurance cost is around 0.5 per cent of the declared value. “This means up to Dh50,000 value of home contents can be protected by paying a premium as low as Dh250 a year.”