Sharjah, Jul 16, 2019 : Nine of the thirteen sailors who were victims in the Sharjah dhow fire have been repatriated, thanks to the intervention from Sharjah immigration authorities, civil defence department, and the Consulate-General of India. The fire took place on May 8 and the sailors were rescued by Sharjah Civil Defence officers, Khaleej Times reported.
The vessel, owned by an Indian, was carrying 6,000 gallons of diesel, 120 exported vehicles and 300 vehicle tyres, all of which were gutted in the massive blaze. Firefighters rescued a crew of 13 Indians from a burning cargo dhow anchored at the Sharjah Creek near Khalid Port. Fortunately, no casualties were reported as the firefighters reached the site immediately and evacuated the crew members in time, Col Sami Al Naqbi, director-general of Sharjah Civil Defence, told Khaleej Times in an earlier interview.
Nine of the 13 left for their hometown in Jamnagar, Gujarat on July 12 according to the Indian Consulate. Two more crew members are expected to leave in the coming days. Consulate officials said the ship’s captain Bilal Ahmed and the owner’s son Javed will continue to stay on board till local authorities’ complete investigation as to what caused the fire.
Neeraj Agarwal, acting consul-general and consul for press, information, culture, said: "Since the vessel completely burned down, the men were out of work and could not leave the country due to the ongoing investigation as to what caused the fire."
The consulate tweeted: "The consulate helped them with subsistence and also provided them air tickets for India. Others will also return to India soon."
Agarwal added: "Since the crew had handed over their passports to the prosecution and the police, we coordinated with the customs and the immigration to provide the necessary paperwork for a transit visa so they can step on land. Following this, we began the repatriation process. Some of the crew were ill and were given medical attention."
The site is still with the forensic experts of the Sharjah Police to probe the reason behind the fire. This is the third fire accident to take place at the same site. Most past fires were caused due to the crew unloading the goods and storing the inflammable materials near the cooking area or under the sun.
The civil defence, in coordination with the Sharjah Police, will study the causes of the fire in these boats and carry out awareness among the crew members of all ships anchored at Khalid Port to prevent a repeat of such incidents. "We will train them to use the extinguisher and fire-fighting equipment to douse the blaze till the fire brigade arrives at the site so as to reduce the loss of life and property," Col Sami Al Naqbi underlined.
Dhow fire incident
The vessel, owned by an Indian, gutted in a massive blaze at the Sharjah Creek on May 8. It was carrying 6,000 gallons of diesel, 120 exported vehicles and 300 vehicle tyres, all of which were gutted. Firefighters rescued a crew of 13 Indians from a burning cargo dhow anchored near Khalid Port.