More than 200 members of family, friends and police attended the funeral on Monday of seven Emirati children who died after a fire broke out in their home in Fujairah.
Shouq, Khalifa, Ahmad, Ali, Sheikha, Sara and Summaya Al Suraidi, all aged between 5 and 15, were asleep when a fire broke out in their living room, next to their bedrooms. The flames ripped through furniture and the children’s school bags, eventually leaving permanent marks on their bedroom doors and in the hearts of their loved ones.
Fujairah police were alerted to the fire at 5.40am on Monday, but by the time patrols, ambulances and firefighters were on the scene the children were already unconscious, never to recover. They were asphyxiated by the fumes.
Relatives flooded in to the village of Dhadna from across the Emirates to offer their condolences, participate in the funeral and help with the burial. The bodies of the seven children were shrouded and prepared for the burial at their grandparent’s house, where many gathered to say their last goodbye.
Women prayed for the children with their grandmother at her house, while men took part in funeral prayers at Rol Dhadna mosque just after 12.30pm. At 2pm, the bodies of the children were carried by their uncles, nephews and other family members from their grandparent’s house to Rol Dhadna cemetery, where they were buried next to their father.
“They took my heart with them, I can’t comprehend that they are all gone,” said their 60-year-old grandmother, Mariam Al Suraidi.
“I tried to wake them up before the funeral, but they didn’t listen. I told them that I had brought them their favourite candy, but none of them responded.”
The children’s father, Saeed Al Suraidi, passed away almost five years ago. “Losing them is very hard, but they are now with their father and in the hands of Allah,” said mother, Mrs Al Suraidi.
Mariam Al Suraidi received a call on Monday at around 6am from one of the neighbours saying something had happened at her grandchildren’s house, so she got dressed and rushed over. “I saw police in the area and I didn’t understand what happened. I kept asking, but no one wanted to tell me and then I found out they had died,” she said.
Asmaa Al Hamoudi, aunty by marriage, said she received a call after 6am from her husband informing her the children had died. “It is a real tragedy and the mind can’t believe it,” she said. “They were loved by all and losing them is very painful.”
“Allah has chosen them to be next to [their father] and they will be missed and remembered.”
A neighbour, Abdullah Salem, 42, said: “After finishing my prayers, I heard an ambulance and rushed to see what had happened. That’s when I saw smoke coming out of the house.”
“They were nice kids, very kind and calm. I wish that we noticed the fire earlier and had the chance to save them, but this is Allah’s will and they are now in a better place.”
The Ministry of Education listed the children as: Shoag, who was in year two at Al Raheeb School; Khalifa, year seven at Anas Bin Al Nadar School; Ahmed, year five at Dhadna School; Ali, year three at Dhadna School; Sheikha, year four at Al Marifa school; and twins Sara and Summaya, who both attended Al Dana Kindergarten.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed offered condolences to the Al Sureidi family on Monday, pledging for the Government to fund planned fire alarm systems connecting residential buildings and fire stations for those who cannot afford it.
"The Civil Defence of the State has said it is it urgent that fire protection systems connected with the Civil Defence control room are installed in all citizens' homes.
"Security and safety are a priority for us and for all who work in our government," Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said.
The system feeds back information such as layout, number of occupants, images of the area and access points to Civil Defence before rescue teams reach the area.