Dubai: Indian school teacher, husband among those killed in residential building fire that left 16 dead

Jeshi, who had a pleasing demeanour, is remembered to be a ‘loving person’ by her former colleagues at the Crescent High School

By Nandini Sircar and Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Sun 16 Apr 2023, 12:48 PM

Last updated: Sun 16 Apr 2023, 11:13 PM

A Dubai school teacher and her husband were among the 16 people who died on Saturday as a massive fire ripped through the fourth floor of a residential building in Dubai’s Al Ras.

Jeshi Kandamangalath, who hailed from Malappuram in Kerala, apparently died of asphyxia along with her husband. They were sleeping when the fire broke out. Jeshi’s husband, Rijesh Kalangadan, worked at a travel agency close to their place of residence in Al Ras. According to social worker Naseer Vadanappilly, the couple had taken a day off to celebrate the Indian festival of Vishu.

Jeshi, who had a pleasing demeanour, is remembered to be a ‘loving person’ by her former colleagues at the Crescent High School.

It was heartbreaking when I got to know of the news. She worked in our school for about five years. She used to teach the primary classes. She was basically the English teacher. She was known to be a ‘lovable person’ amongst people,” says Qaisar Altaf, administration manager at Crescent English High School.

Jeshi who left the school on March 25, 2023, was since then teaching in Woodlem Park School Dubai.

Altaf added: “She was in her early 30s and used to always request people to pray for her as she wanted to start her family now. I think her husband worked for a travel and tourism company.

“As a dedicated member of our faculty for many years, she instilled in her students not only a love of learning but also impacted the lives of many. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Jeshi’s family and friends during this difficult time. We remember her fondly and will forever be grateful for the impact she has made in our school and the wider community. Rest in peace, Ms Jeshi. Your legacy will continue to inspire future generations of learners.”

Archana Praveen, who is the Primary Supervisor and had worked closely with Jeshi for four years, was choking back tears as she spoke to Khaleej Times.

Struggling to steady her voice she says, “I am still shocked I am somehow unable to accept this reality. I got to know of it this morning, at around 6am. A friend called up to inform me of the same. That’s when I switched on my WhatsApp and saw so many messages on the same. She was very close to me. She had joined the school before me. But ever since I joined in 2019, we both had worked very closely. I have also been getting continuous call from [students'] parents. Many want to see her one last time. But I don’t think that can be allowed. Parents and students are really upset on hearing the news. She had truly touched many lives as an inspiring teacher.”

She adds, “She was very professional, hardworking and eager to learn. She was an absolute team player. During teacher training sessions, she picked up things effortlessly. She took positive and negative feedback equally well in her stride. Even during Covid-19 she dedicatedly played her part as a responsible teacher would do.”

Reminiscing a time when Archana was especially touched by Jeshi’s gesture, she says, “I had some emergency this year and had to go to India. I was looking for a substitute teacher and couldn’t find one. She did everything in her capacity to fill that place and do my share of the work. She kept a chair near my desk and took on all my responsibilities, just as I would. She didn’t even want to sit in my chair. She fulfilled all my duties duly and the school management and staff were very happy with her commitment and sincerity."

"In fact, when she decided to move on, the school even tried stopping her, but she was obviously getting better perks elsewhere, so we had to let her go. Today, the school management, teaching and non-teaching staff, students and their parents are deeply saddened by her untimely demise.”

Meanwhile, Jeshi’s husband’s friend told KT that as soon as he heard the news on Saturday, he rushed to hospitals looking for the couple. Later, he was guided to the Qusais mortuary where he found their bodies.

Rijesh’s friend Mansoor Ali says, “Rijesh and I are from the same village in Kerala. He came to the UAE around 10 years ago and I came here before him. When I heard the news on Saturday, initially, I was hoping and praying that I would find Rijesh and his wife at one of the hospitals. However, when I did not find them in any of the hospitals that I visited, I felt a pit in my stomach. I was beginning to realise that they were probably did not make it. Then I found their bodies in the mortuary. I am feeling extremely low and still trying to get a grip on what has happened.”


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