Parts of damaged building still not safe for residents

SHARJAH — The mezzanine and ground floor of the building damaged due to the gas explosion on Thursday are still unsafe for residents due to the severely damaged ceiling, said a Sharjah Municipality official.

By Meraj Rizvi, Lina Abdul Rahman And Afkar Abdullah

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Published: Sun 22 May 2005, 10:59 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:29 PM

Speaking to Khaleej Times, the official said that the civic body checked the safety of the building on the same day when the blast occurred in the China Town Restaurant.

“Based on our observation, we have prepared a technical report where we find no problems in the construction of the building which means that it will not pose any danger to the tenants, except for the mezzanine floor, which comprises six flats, and the ground floor,” he said.

Explaining the main reason of preventing the tenants from staying at the building, he said that the ceiling had collapsed and maintenance work was being carried out.

“The tenants are not allowed to these floors due to security reasons. Tenants of the higher floors can stay in the building and are safe. No tenants were allowed into the building till yesterday to prevent any robbery or stealing at the flats. Doors of the flats based on the mezzanine floor were also damaged.

However, residents of the ill-fated building who still continue to stay with relatives and friends, said the building landlord is yet unable to give them a date when they can return to their apartments.

Diana who lives on the sixth storey said that she visited the building yesterday and found the police and civil defence officials still around. “I was allowed briefly to go up to my flat accompanied by a security person to pick up my necessary belongings. But, how long can we continue like this because I have to go to work and children need to go to school. We cannot live in the homes of our relatives and friends indefinitely. The authorities should give us a clear date when we will be allowed to move back to the apartment,” Diana said.

Another resident said that his apartment has not suffered major damages except for a shattered glass window in one of the toilet. “I think we should be allowed to move back,” he said.

The maintenance work should start immediately enabling residents to move back into their homes soon, the tenant said.

The building watchman disclosed that maintenance work of the building can be completed in a day or two since the landlord owns a construction company and can complete the maintenance job soon. “But, we have yet to get the clearance from the police and the municipality to carry out maintenance and repair work making the building safe for the residents to move in,” he said.

On the compensation for damages to the tenants due to the explosion that destroyed furniture in several apartments, he said the building is insured. Besides, the China Town Restaurant is also insured, he said and, quoting the landlord, added that the insurance company of the restaurant should pay compensation to the residents for the damages caused in their homes.

He said that his landlord has assured the tenants he would settle all their hotel bills during this period. “But, we cannot make any alternate arrangements in any of the company’s other buildings which are currently full to capacity,” he added.

An official from Sharjah police said that the Sharjah forensic laboratory has confirmed that the accident took place due to gas leak.

“In order to ensure safety of the residents of the affected buildings, we have asked them to evacuate their apartments and stay in friends, relatives’ house or hotels till Saturday after the municipality inspects the building and issues validity report which confirms that this building is fit for accommodation,” he said.

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