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Home > Region
 
13 workers killed in Bahrain blaze

Suad Hamada / 13 January 2013

Thirteen people, mostly Bangladeshi migrant workers, were killed as a fire swept through a three-storey block housing Asians in the Bahraini capital on Friday evening.

Civil defence teams managed to rescue several workers during firefighting operations that lasted several hours. One firefighter was injured when the building’s roof collapsed during the rescue attempt.

Officials said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the fire, which broke out in the illegal labour accommodation in the crowded Makharka district of central Manama.

The Bangladeshi Embassy issued a warning on Saturday to its community after learning that 10 out of the 13 who died in the fire were Bangladeshi nationals. The remaining three bodies were yet to be identified as they were burnt beyond recognition. The fire occurred when most of the tenants were in the building.

At a meeting, Bangladeshi Ambassador Mohamed Akbar told the survivors and other members of his community to be extra careful in labour accommodations and try to choose safe homes.

To help them deal with the plight of Pakistani survivors, their embassy’s community welfare officer Maqsood Qadir Shah said the embassy wouldn’t charge any fee while reissuing documents such as passports. He also told them the embassy would compensate the injured.

Visiting the tragedy site, Manama Governor Shaikh Hisham Al Khalifa told the Press that 13 people have died and eight sustained injuries in the blaze.

The Migrant Workers Protection Society distributed blankets, mattresses and arranged food for the survivors while temporary shelter is being arranged for them.

The building was overcrowded with labourers as it has around 25 rooms accommodating more than 100 tenants.

This case is similar to another tragedy that occurred in 2006 that led to the death of 16 Indians in a labour accommodation in Manama.

Minister of Labour Jamil Humaidan offered his condolences to the families of the victims, while he highlighted that the initial investigation revealed that the owner of the building rented it to an Asian who sublet it illegally with an option to rent a room or a bed.

“To prevent such tragedy from happening, the Cabinet had agreed on December 30 that rent contracts become legal only after they are approved by a government authority. According to the new measure, labourers wouldn’t be allowed to live in certain residential areas,” the minister said.

He called upon employers and companies to follow safety measures at their labour accommodations. — shamada@khaleejtimes.com

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