Five Migrant Workers Killed in Fire in Saudi Arabia

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, February 26, 2015

Four Bangladeshi workers were among five people killed when fire engulfed their sleeping accommodation in Saudi Arabia, Dhaka's embassy said on Thursday.

The blaze erupted at about 1:30 am on Monday in the container in which the workers slept, the embassy's labor counsellor told AFP.

"They are burned so badly that it is very difficult to identify" the remains, but DNA analysis will be done, said the counselor, asking not to be named.

The incident occurred at Naser Furniture Factory in the Gulf coast city of Dammam.

Police found five bodies in the container in which six people, including a Pakistani and an Indian, previously lived.

"We are waiting for the police report" on the cause of fire, the counsellor said.

Expatriates account for nine million of the oil-rich kingdom's population of 27 million.

This is the second fire to kill foreign workers in the Gulf in the past week.

On February 21, ten foreign workers died in a fire that hit a tire shop in Abu Dhabi, apparently trapping the laborers in a warehouse used illegally for accommodation.

Police said the victims were of different nationalities and that the owner of the building was arrested.

Fires at warehouses in industrial zones are common in the United Arab Emirates and authorities across the Gulf nation continue to crack down on illegal accommodation of foreign laborers.

About 23 million foreigners, including at least 2.4 million domestic servants, live in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that brings together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

GCC countries have come under fire for the kafala system of sponsorship for migrant workers, which is used to varying extents across the Gulf.

It restricts most workers from moving to a new job before their contracts end unless they obtain their employer's consent, trapping many workers in abusive situations.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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