Residents of Abu Dhabi community warn others after cabinets collapse at home

In separate incidents just weeks apart, two homeowners said their children narrowly missed severe injuries after kitchen cupboards fell on them

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 9, 2020.  Dr. Ahmed Tantawy with his son Salem-2, in their kitchen where the whole cabinet came off the wall.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
Reporter Kelly Clarke
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Residents of an Abu Dhabi community warned their neighbours after wall cabinets in their homes collapsed without warning.

In separate incidents just weeks apart, two homeowners said their children narrowly missed severe injuries when a set of wall-mounted kitchen cupboards toppled onto them.

Sharing images of the aftermath online recently, they alerted others in the community to check the fixtures and fittings in their homes.

The incidents took place on December 29 last year and January 16 this year at an apartment and villa in the popular Al Reef neighbourhood.

Speaking to The National, mother-of-one, Bindiya F, said her nanny and two-year-old daughter were in the kitchen when the accident happened.

They were trapped for more than 40 minutes before she could help them out.

“I was in complete shock when I walked in from work and found them,” she said.

“I could hear my nanny crying but I thought she was just pretend playing with my daughter.

“Then I turned the corner and saw them surrounded by splintered wood and shattered glass.”

Dr Ahmed Tantawy's kitchen after wall cabinets collapsed suddenly. Courtesy Ahmed Tantawy 
Dr Ahmed Tantawy's kitchen after wall cabinets collapsed suddenly. Courtesy Ahmed Tantawy 

The nanny eventually managed to free the toddler from the wreckage, but was unable to get to her phone as the cupboards were blocking the door.

“To be stuck in there with no way to call for help was scary for them, my daughter was in tears," she said.

“I dread to think what the outcome would have been if she was in the kitchen alone when they collapsed, but by some miracle she walked away with no big injuries, thanks to my nanny.”

After moving into the apartment complex in October, the resident noticed a small gap between the kitchen cupboards and wall, so notified the on-site maintenance company.

Not in my wildest dreams did I think they would just crash down like that one day

“Usually, kitchen cabinets are flush with the wall so we made a point of letting them know," she said.

“The management didn’t seem too concerned about the design flaw so I didn’t push for maintenance to fix the problem.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I think they would just crash down like that one day.

“We acted too late and I regret that now.”

Two weeks after the incident, on January 30, a new set of cabinets were fitted in her home. She also notified Manazel Specialists, the management company for Al Reef, about the incident.

In a follow up email sent to Ms Bindiya on February 3, a spokesman for Manazel expressed ”regret” at the incident.

“We ask you to make an appointment so that we [can] visit you as soon as possible to reveal the cause of the accident and work to avoid such incidents in the future,” it read.

Dr Ahmed Tantawy's kitchen after wall cabinets collapsed suddenly. Courtesy Ahmed Tantawy 
Dr Ahmed Tantawy's kitchen after wall cabinets collapsed suddenly. Courtesy Ahmed Tantawy 

And last week, after several follow up requests, she said representatives from Manazel visited her apartment for follow up inspections.

After reading Ms Bindiya's post on the Al Reef community forum, Dr Ahmed Tantawy, father-of-four who lives in Al Reef Villas, reached out to her.

Speaking to The National, he said his kitchen was left in tatters when some cabinets collapsed at his home in December.

“The entire thing just crashed around my eldest son and our nanny, they were traumatised,” he said.

“It stretched about four metres along the wall and just fell without warning.

"Our water tanker, microwave, cups, plates and food were all damaged.

“But the most terrifying thing was that it fell in the exact spot where my one-year-old boy usually eats his meals.

“It could have been a lot, lot worse.”

After the accident, Dr Tantawy said he soon realised how poorly the cabinets were fitted.

He said there was a wooden panel attached to the wall and the "entire cabinet was hanging from that one panel".

After contacting Census International, the facilities management for the villa complexes, he was referred to the head office.

They then advised him to contact Manazel.

"I called them but had no luck, it was a waste of time," he said.

“In the end, I got my friend who is a carpenter to make and fix some new cabinets for me.

"We are a family of six so we had to get the issued fixed quickly, we couldn't wait for weeks for the management to react.”

Dr Tantawy said he was shocked to hear it had happened to someone else.

"That's when I knew something had to be done," he said.

“This is a huge family community and the issue needs to be fixed now, so people do not get hurt.

"I am a physician and I have seen how such accidents can impact peoples' lives."

In 2015, a similar incident was reported in the same residential area.

A mother-of-two used Facebook to air her frustrations after a bathroom sink slid from its cabinet and nearly dropped onto her daughter.

At that time, Manazel sent letters to residents saying repair works would be carried out in all properties where a problem had been reported.

Manazel was contacted for comment but did not respond at the time of publishing.