Two dead in Abu Dhabi restaurant gas leak blast
Officials confirm deaths and say apparent fault in gas pipes led to accident
Two people died in a gas explosion in central Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Abu Dhabi Government Media Office confirmed the deaths on Monday afternoon, after the blast was reported about 10.15am.
In an image shared by Abu Dhabi Police, the KFC and Hardee's restaurants and neighbouring shops in Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Road, known locally as Airport Road, were destroyed.
Residents said they heard an explosion, which sent debris across the road in front of the building flying as far as a kilometre away.
"Unfortunately, two victims lost their lives – one near the site of the incident, and a second passer-by who was hit by debris," Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to their families, God rest their souls."
The media office said Abu Dhabi Police was carrying out a "comprehensive check up of the building and neighbouring buildings" to ensure there were no injuries.
It said that investigations showed the explosion was caused by a misalignment in the gas container fittings after the residential building was refuelled.
This caused a gas leak that damaged a restaurant on the ground floor and a neighbouring building, authorities said.
By 6.30pm, police had completely cleared the area and reopened roads.
"Our thanks to all those involved for their efforts and rapid response in dealing with this incident, and for demonstrating the highest levels of professionalism," the media office said.
"The situation was managed effectively and normal operations resumed in record time."
Police reminded the public to be careful when dealing with gas connections and other power sources.
Earlier, the media office said residents were escorted to safety while firefighters made the area safe.
"Abu Dhabi Police has evacuated all residents from the building safely with no injuries," it said.
"Relevant teams are arranging temporary accommodation for residents until the building’s safety is assured."
Officers earlier told drivers to steer clear of Airport Road, close to Al Wahda Mall, while emergency services attended.
Ritchelle Otrillo, 40, a saleswoman who works at a haircare shop two buildings from the accident site, said she heard a loud bang about 10am.
"I went out to see what happened and I saw people covered in blood.
"I had four customers, and one customer said she had just left with her kids from KFC five minutes before and she was almost crying. She was very lucky. She said God saved her."
Police advised Ms Otrillo to close the shop and go home. It was reopened at 7pm when the area was cleared by authorities.
"This is the first time I have seen something like this in this area," she said. "I have been working here since two years."
Another resident said they heard a loud explosion and saw thick smoke billow from the area.
"The police and paramedics arrived within minutes," they said.
"While they continued the evacuation of the building, the fire service got to the scene."
On social media, another Abu Dhabi resident said: "Am staying opposite to Qasr Al Hosn and heard a huge sound. Thought it was the cannon."
"Could it possibly have been this? It was really loud. Hope all are safe," wrote a member of the Abu Dhabi Q&A Facebook page.
"We live even further, closer to Corniche, and I heard the bang," another said.
Updated: September 2, 2020 08:33 AM