Sharjah fire: Survivors tell of escape from blaze that killed five

Delivery rider helps woman and child to safety, as neighbours take in survivors left with nowhere to stay

Five people are confirmed to have died in the blaze at a high-rise tower in Sharjah on Thursday.  Leslie Pableo for The National
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The husband of a Filipina victim of a fire at a residential block in Sharjah is among those fighting for life in intensive care after the blaze on Thursday night.

Ten other Filipinos were among those receiving hospital care after the fire broke out at the 38-storey building in Al Nahda area, claiming five lives and forcing 156 to be rehomed.

Residents from the 750 apartments were returning to their homes on Saturday, to assess damage as maintenance engineers restored water and power to the floors affected.

Some told harrowing accounts of their ordeal in trying to evacuate the building as fire alarms rang out, but others praised heroes who helped women and children to safety.

Amazon worker Nejed Nujumuddin took a call from his wife as he returned home to say their building was on fire.

“I told her to get out as soon as possible, and I jumped in a taxi and got there as soon as I could,” he said.

“When I called her I could hear the fire alarm in the background, so it was very intense.

“Because of the smoke, she couldn't see the way, but she just wanted to come out, so she just blindly felt her way down.

“By the time I got there, they were all outside and a nice family from a nearby building had offered food, water and somewhere to stay for the night.

“I’ve been back in to the apartment – it is fine, but the corridor has been badly damaged by smoke.

“Just a week ago, I told my wife if she heard an alarm or something like that, she must take extra care and know how to get out safely. Thankfully, she did.”

Weeks of repairs

The Indian was told it would take three weeks before they would be able to return.

He came like an angel. I have not managed to find him but I owe him so much
Noufal Faziludeen, evacuated resident

Mr Nujumuddin’s friend, a neighbour on the 17th floor, said it took his wife and young child 10 minutes to escape, thanks to a delivery driver who went into the building to help evacuate those inside.

“My wife and I got really scared as she was panicking when I was speaking to her on the phone – I got home as fast as I could,” Noufal Faziludeen, who also works for Amazon.

“She came from the 17th floor with my child and it was really the first time she had experienced anything like this so she was very scared.

“A delivery boy came to the rescue when she was coming down and she met him on the stairs.

“He took my child, who is only one and a half. He helped them both out of the building.

“He came like an angel. I have not managed to find him but I owe him so much.”

The high rise Gulf Pearl Tower block next to the Al Madina Hypermarket has 33 residential floors each with eight apartments, and five parking levels.

Contracted residents have been rehomed in nearby hotels, while those living in sub-let apartments have had to find their own temporary accommodation while repairs are completed.

The building is segregated into three blocks, A, B and C.

Rooftop escape

Geoffrey, a football coach from Ghana, was at home in the adjacent block to where the fire broke out just after 10pm and is now staying at a nearby hotel.

“I was in the building next door and could see the fire in Block B,” he said.

“I was stuck there with five or six other people on the 20th floor and we were told to get to the roof. One of those people is in hospital now.

“We had to wait for the smoke to clear before we could go anywhere.

“When we looked outside we could see bodies on the ground, but we knew the emergency crew was coming.”

Maj Gen Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, commander in chief of Sharjah Police, said 44 people had been injured in the fire, with 17 in hospital.

A statement from the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai offered support for those involved.

“After the tragic loss of one Filipina compatriot we are closely monitoring the condition of her husband, who is currently in intensive care following a devastating fire in Sharjah's Al Nadha area.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and pray for the swift recovery of her husband, as well as the other 10 injured Filipinos who are receiving medical attention.

“The consulate is coordinating with local authorities and community leaders to ensure all affected Filipinos receive the support they need during this difficult time.”

Updated: April 07, 2024, 3:17 PM