Dubai building fire: Tenants pay tribute to 2 Indian workers who died saving them

Instead of rushing out to safety, both ran from ground floor, knocking every door and waking sleeping residents in the building


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo by SM Ayaz Zakir
Photo by SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 9:52 AM

Last updated: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 10:35 PM

The siren rang out when fire engulfed the fourth floor of the ill-fated building in Deira on April 15 afternoon. Instead of rushing out to safety, building workers Saliyakoondu Gudu and Imam Kasim rushed to the upper level. "All they wanted was to save tenants from the fire. Their quick actions saved many lives," said Mudassir Ahmed, a Pakistani expat residing on the third floor of the building.

Both the Indian workers rushed from the ground floor to the fourth to try and extinguish the fire. But were caught in the thick, black smoke and never made it out of the building.

“The apartment I reside in is on the opposite side of the charred flat on the same floor, right beside the staircase. At around 1pm on April 15, somebody banged at our door. I opened it only to find the smoke-filled corridor; I cautioned my other flatmates to leave the building immediately. I am sure that it was one of the watchmen who banged our door,” said a Bangladeshi expat working as a tailor in Deira.

On their way out, these expats cautioned many other tenants residing on the lower floors. “While exiting, we banged many other doors to warn other tenants. It was that one quick move by the security guard that saved many lives,” said the tenant adding that Almighty showers his blessings on the deceased watchmen.

Sudanese nationals were asleep when the incident happened a few flats away from the charred apartment. They did not have any idea what was happening. “When we heard people screaming out their lungs, we learned about the fire. It was in the apartment where our friends resided, all of whom succumbed to the blaze,” said a heartbroken Sudanese tenant.

"It was pitch dark with thick black smoke. I could hear someone screaming and see him guiding people to exit the apartment. It must be Kasim. It is so heartbreaking that he couldn't make it out in time. He was friendly and always greeted us with 'Assalamualaikum' when we entered or exited the building," said the tenant.

A few Nigerian nationals now waiting to return to their homes couldn't believe the workers' efforts to save people. "One of my friends is a tenant on the second floor of the building. As he exited, one of the guards screamed at him to exit the building and cautioned his flatmates. That was the last time he saw the Good Samaritan. We cannot believe these guards would endanger their lives to save others. They are the real heroes," said Michal Iubekwen, a neighbourhood resident.

“We are deeply saddened. They had pure intentions to save lives. My friend is in a complete state of shock. But their efforts must not go in vain. We pray to the Lord for them,” added Iubekwen.

A security guard of a nearby building was a friend to the workers and often conversed with them over tea. "I am still in complete disbelief. I can't swallow my tea," said Asif (name changed).

He continued, "We security guards in the neighbourhood are all friends. Whenever we are off duty, we discuss our families back home, our daily routines, tenant's issues and maintenance work. Saliyakoondu Gudu was very active and was always concerned about problems faced by tenants in the building."

Asif added, "Kasim often mentioned someone's wedding back home for whom he had shopped. I went shopping with him just before Ramadan. He wanted to apply for leave in May to attend the wedding. They both were great souls."


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