Abu Dhabi courtyard collapse: a simple noise and the panic returned

Al Rayyana residents, housed in a hotel temporarily, are still spooked after courtyard collapse.

Residents of the Al Rayyana residential development are evacuated from their homes.
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ABU DHABI // The thought of moving back into their accommodation sounds neither inviting nor safe, said two teachers who were home at the time of the courtyard collapse at Al Rayyana.

Although they were not harmed, the incident left both shaken. So much so, they were easily startled at their temporary accommodations at the Yas Viceroy Hotel.

"We were in a lift and we didn't realise it had a back and front door," said one teacher.

Unaware of the door opening behind them, the noise startled them.

"We didn't realise it had affected us that much."

Although many of their questions about their homes and belongings were answered at a meeting yesterday morning with Adec officials, some things, such as the length of time they were to stay at the hotel, are yet to be determined.

"They said three days, for the moment," one said, adding that "the receptionist said we are booked in for 14 days". Adec, however, did not give them specifics.

Because they live in an apartment that does not overlook the courtyard, the pair were initially unaware anything had happened.

They laughed off the loud crash and the small tremor they felt.

Venturing outside to investigate after a fellow teacher called to ask if they were OK, officials prevented them from re-entering their apartment.

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The nearly 200 members of staff who were relocated at the hotel were sent back to their apartments yesterday in waves to collect their belongings.

"They have been facilitating small groups to access the apartments," a teacher said. Residents were given about "20 minutes just to grab enough stuff for a week. And passports".

They praised Adec for its efficiency in caring for their welfare, but had some criticism for emergency services.

"The emergency response was awful," one said, adding it was more than an hour before anyone arrived.

Sorouh officials said Civil Defence was on the scene 30 minutes after being notified.

Staff were brought to the hotel at around midnight, almost four hours after the collapse.

But the teachers said it was "a miracle no one was hurt."