Dubai businesses step up safety checks after gas explosion at Turkish restaurant

Bosporus restaurant, on Jumeirah Beach Road, was devastated in the blast that also blew out windows in nearby buildings. The explosion also raised safety concerns about eateries operating from converted villas in residential neighbourhoods.
Monette Cruz, manager of Maria Bonita, Dubai, says the explosion at Bosporus restaurant has prompted greater diligence about gas safety checks. Dubai Civil Defence is investigating the cause of the blast that destroyed the Turkish eatery. Sarah Dea / The National
Monette Cruz, manager of Maria Bonita, Dubai, says the explosion at Bosporus restaurant has prompted greater diligence about gas safety checks. Dubai Civil Defence is investigating the cause of the blast that destroyed the Turkish eatery. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // A suspected gas explosion that destroyed a popular Turkish restaurant on Tuesday has prompted managers at nearby businesses to step up their safety precautions.

The blast wrecked Bosporus restaurant, on Jumeirah Beach Road, and also blew out windows in nearby buildings. The incident raised general safety concerns about eateries operating from converted villas in residential neighbourhoods.

Latif Kurl, the manager of Bosporus, said the explosion happened near the kitchen after 6am and was probably caused by a gas leak. No one was injured.

The manager of Itzza Pizza restaurant, three doors away, said the scene reminded him of TV images of the aftermath of a typhoon.

“My employees told me it was a fire but when I turned the corner it looked like a disaster, I knew it was an explosion,” Tariq Mustafa said.

“By law you’re not allowed to have gas cylinders inside. All of ours are located in steel cages at the back of the restaurant.”

Mr Mustafa said villas were designed according to strict civil defence specifications before being permitted to open as restaurants.

Najeem Abdelrasool, manager of Kabana Restaurant and Cafe on Jumeirah Beach Road, said their gas supply was checked every week.

“Fire safety is extremely important, and we make sure to stay on top of it.

“We also always make sure to shut off the main gas pipe at the end of the work day, which is about 2:45am. What happened was very unfortunate.”

A gas leak would cause an explosion only with a spark, said Hani Kobty, technical manager at fire and security engineering contractor Telectron, Abu Dhabi. “Fire safety measures and gas canisters should be routinely checked and maintained,” he said.

Mr Kobty recommended installing detectors in kitchens to alert civil defence.

“The detector is connected to the fire alarm system, which is connected to civil defence. If there is a dangerous level of leaked gas it will notify the system.

“We urge restaurants to always have a gas detector and maintain it. The gas [system] should be checked every three months. Restaurant staff should always make sure everything is shut off, disconnected and sealed.”

Monette Cruz, manager of Maria Bonita on Umm Al Sheif Road, said the incident came as a shock. “I heard about the explosion at the Turkish restaurant, which is very close to us. It’s about a two-minute drive. We are in a villa-like complex and we have residents living in the same block.

“We do not have a company that regularly checks on the gas, but after what happened yesterday, it is definitely something I will look into.”

Overall, safety standards in the UAE are on par with European countries, said Mark Fenton, general manager for Honeywell Security and Fire, but there is always room for improvement.

“Raising public awareness about fire safety is crucial to getting people to make sure they are protected from potential dangers. This is a communal responsibility, and we must all work together to make sure our surroundings are safe.”

Dubai Civil Defence said the blast and fire at Bosporus restaurant started near the kitchen but the cause was still under investigation.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae

Published: October 21, 2015 04:00 AM

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