Dubai building fire: Brother of one of the deceased recalls last conversation with sister

'She had moved into the complex just a few days ago, was in the process of shifting to Malta'


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Supplied photo
Supplied photo
by

SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 7:09 AM

Last updated: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 10:30 PM

Abinkeng Nicoline, a Cameroonian national, was one of the sixteen people who lost their lives in the Deira building fire. Her brother, Awunglefac, revealed that she had nailed her chef job interviews and was all set to move to Malta for good. "But fate had other plans for her," said Awunglefac, grieving for his sister's untimely demise.

It was on Saturday afternoon that the building, located behind Latifa Masjid, was engulfed in flames, claiming 16 lives in the residential building. Social workers have confirmed the identities of the victims of the tragedy. Among them, were six Sudanese, four Indians, three Pakistanis, one from Cameroon, one Jordanian, and one Egyptian.

Nicoline was the fifth child out of ten siblings, and two of her older brothers also lived in Dubai. Her brother, Awunglefac, worked as a waiter at a restaurant and used to meet Nicoline once every week.

"We shared a strong bond and talked on the phone every day," said Awunglefac, who added that Nicoline had moved to the building just a few days before the tragedy occurred.

A few hours before the heart-wrenching incident, Awunglefac spoke to Nicoline over the phone: "She said she was about to go off to sleep."

Nicoline was worried about her father's health. She didn't get enough sleep, weeping through the night, worried about her father's surgery. "We were informed on April 15 that our father needed to undergo a medical procedure," Awunglefac said adding that Nicoline was due to start her work in the morning, but fate had other plans. "If it weren't for this tragic situation, she would still be with us," Awunglefac lamented.

However, she explained her situation at work and took off for the morning shift and was allowed to work later. According to Awunglefac, he had sent a voice note to Nicoline to inquire about something, but it was not delivered, and her last seen on the chat app indicated that she was active early in the morning.

After Awunglefac saw a video of the building on fire on social media, he realised it was where Nicoline lived. "I immediately took the day off and rushed to Deira. The scenes near the building were frightening," he recounted. Awunglefac went to the police station and Rashid Hospital to inquire about the victims of the incident but was directed to a government clinic. "We searched for information about the deceased and eventually found our way to the clinic," he said.

With tears in his eyes, Awunglefac said, their world shattered when the police confirmed Nicoline's death.

Nicoline came to Dubai in 2016 and worked with various firms, including a cleaning company, salons, and a chef. “Last year, during the third quarter, she landed her present job as a chef due to her skills in cooking,” said Awunglefac mentioning that she worked at an African restaurant.

Awunglefac said that documentation to repatriate Nicoline’s body was almost over, and they were arranging money. “We are borrowing and arranging money for repatriation, which costs nearly Dh20,000. Burying here is not an option for us as we want her daughter, our parents, and family members to fulfil the last rites,” said Awunglefac requesting people to help them.

Nicoline is survived by a daughter who is waiting for her mother's body to fulfil the final rites.

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