5-year-old dangling from UAE high-rise rescued: 'Boy was looking for mother when he slipped to the edge'

Hero watchman tells Khaleej Times how he and a tenant broke open the apartment door to rescue the child


Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Thu 15 Sep 2022, 5:26 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Sep 2022, 10:28 PM

Nepalese watchman Muhammad Rahmatullah was supervising maintenance workers when one of them saw a boy clutching at the edge of a window on the 13th floor of a high-rise in Sharjah.

"Right at that moment, I knew it was a matter of life and death and a minute can make a difference," the 43-year-old Rahmatullah told Khaleej Times on Thursday, narrating how they called the police and asked for everyone's help to save the child.

Investigations revealed that the five-year-old Syrian boy was sleeping when his mother stepped out to buy him breakfast from the grocery store at the building's ground floor. The boy suddenly woke up and as he started looking for his mother — he thought he could go out through the window.

He then climbed out and got stuck. When residents and workers spotted him, he was already dangling from the window, standing on his toes on the edge.

How the community saved the day

While the police were on their way, tenants and workers started piling up blankets and bedsheets to create a cushion that can possibly protect the boy in case he falls.

Thinking on their feet, Rahmatullah, an Egyptian tenant and a worker rushed to the apartment.

"I called the boy's father and took his permission for us to break the door open. We managed to enter the flat and pull the boy back inside," said the watchman, a father of two.

“I decided to act quickly because it’s my responsibility to ensure the safety of the building's tenants. I also responded as a father — and that boy could have been my son."

Rahmatullah and the tenant, Adel Abdul Hafeez, were honoured by the police on Thursday.

“What happened was a miracle from God and a lesson to parents to ensure safety for their little one,” the watchman said.

Negligence ruled out

The Civil Defence and officers who went to the apartment found that all the windows met the precautionary requirements set by the authorities. No negligence was detected and no case was filed.

The window that the boy managed to climbed out of was open by just about 10cm. This is why the authorities have reiterated the reminder that children should be supervised at all times.

"According to investigations, children falling from high-rises occur due to parental negligence. In the incidents that happened in previous years, parents had left the windows open and kept objects that children could use to climb out of balconies," a top official from the Sharjah Police said.

"Keeping an eye on them is important when they roam around the house. We will continue our campaign, 'Your Child's Safety is Your Responsibility," he added.


Safety initiatives

Thanks to awareness campaigns and safety regulations, incidents of child falling from windows and balconies have declined over the last three years.

In 2017, the Sharjah Municipality has made a series of amendments to the technical requirements for windows and balconies, said director-general Obaid Al Tunaiji.

As a result, landlords and contractors have raised the height of windows and balconies to 120cm instead of 100cm. They were also required to instal safety locks to prevent windows from opening for more than five to 10cm.

They were also asked to use railings that children won't be able to climb over. Last year, the municipality allowed tenants of residential apartments to put up a translucent acrylic barrier on their balcony railings after obtaining the necessary permit.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mohammed Rahmatullah, a Nepalese watchman narrated the details of the incident stating that he was supervising maintenance workers who were carrying out maintenance work in the building. One of the workers saw the boy identified as F.M. clutching at the edge of the window on the 13th floor.

The hero watchman said he acted quickly because a minute can make a difference between life and death. "I asked one of the workers to inform the police and requested the tenants and the rest of the workers to hold blankets and bedsheets to protect the boy from injuries in case he falls to the ground."

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