Abu Dhabi industrial area fire claims lives of 10 laborers

AP News
Posted: Feb 21, 2015 4:41 AM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Police in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi have launched an investigation into a deadly fire that tore through a building in an industrial area where laborers were sleeping and killed 10 people.

Abu Dhabi police said the fire broke out early Friday morning in the al-Mussafah industrial area, a district filled with warehouses, factories and workshops on the outskirts of the capital.

The blaze started in car repair shops located at the base of a commercial building before spreading to a second-story warehouse that had been illegally rented out as accommodation to the workers. Firefighters managed to put out the fire only after it had gutted the entire building.

Besides the 10 people killed, eight others were wounded, police said.

Police did not identify the victims, but said they comprised different nationalities. Much of the manual labor in the Emirates is done by South Asians, though the country draws workers from around the world who are attracted by promises of better wages than they could make back home.

An investigation into the fire is underway. Police have arrested the building owner and are in the process of detaining others, including the building supervisor. The police said authorities will "show zero tolerance to those who disregard public safety conditions."

Rights activists have long raised concerns about conditions for low-paid migrant laborers in the Emirates and other oil-rich Gulf states. Migrant workers are typically housed in dormitory-style housing known as labor camps that contain several bunk beds per room.