Migrant labourers killed by fire that swept through illegal accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Hundreds of migrant workers die in the UAE every year in accidents

At least 10 migrant labourers have been killed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by a fire that tore through the warehouse they were sleeping in.

The workers were staying in the al-Mussafah district of Abu Dhabi, an industrial area filled with warehouses, factories and workshops on the outskirts of the capital.

Police said the blaze started early on Friday morning in a car repair shop at the base of a commercial building.

It spread to a two-storey warehouse that had been illegally rented out as accommodation to the labourers and gutted the building before firefighters could extinguish the flames.

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Migrant workers are employed for many of the UAE's building projects

Eight people were injured, police said, and 10 bodies have been found. The victims, who have not been named, were of different nationalities.

Migrant workers are drawn to the UAE, particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with the promise of higher wages than at home for huge building projects.

Many come from South Asian countries and human rights groups have long documented widespread abuses such as the confiscation of passports, forced labour, terrible living conditions and deaths on unsafe construction sites.

Last year, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) called on the United Nations to investigate the “international scandal” of migrant labour in the UAE, saying human rights abuses were present even in high profile projects run by Western firms.

In another fire in the early hours of Saturday morning, wealthy ex-pats were evacuated from the Torch skyscraper in Dubai when a fire burned through several floors.

An investigation into Friday’s fire is underway and police have arrested the building owner and are in the process of detaining others, including the building supervisor.

A spokesperson said authorities will “show zero tolerance to those who disregard public safety conditions”.

Additional reporting by AP

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