Dubai, Apr 17 (IANS): An Indian couple who died in a massive fire that broke out at a residential building in Dubai killing 16 people, was preparing an iftar meal for their neighbours, according to a media report.
Rijesh Kalangadan, 38, and his wife Jeshi Kandamangalath, 32, were preparing Vishu sadhya, a festival meal, for their neighbours to end their fast on Saturday evening, the Gulf News reported.
At least 16 people were killed and nine others injured in the blaze in Al Ras area, which Dubai Civil Defence attributed to a lack of compliance with building security and safety requirements.
Hailing from Kerala, Kalangadan worked as a business development manager with a travel and tourism company, and his wife Kandamangalath was a schoolteacher.
According to Gulf News, the couple had invited their Muslim neighbours, a group of bachelors from Kerala, for an iftar meal.
"They had invited us during Onam and Vishu lunches earlier also. This time, they told us to come for iftar as it is Ramzan," Riyas Kaikambam, who lived with seven roommates in apartment number 409, said.
The couple lived in 406 -- adjacent to flat 405 where the fire started.
Calling them a "friendly couple", Kaikambam said he last saw them outside their apartment.
"I could see the teacher was crying," he recalled.
"There was no response to calls later. I could see Rijesh's last seen status on WhatsApp at 12.35 p.m. I just can't believe the man who helped me book my flight ticket, the man who invited me for iftar, is gone," he said.
The couple was scheduled to fly home for the house-warming of their home next month, a family member from Kerala told Gulf News.
The fire broke out on fourth floor of the building on Saturday at 12.35 p.m. and soon spread to other areas.
Dubai Civil Defence Operations Room was informed about the inferno after which fire engines were rushed to the spot.
The fire was controlled around 2.42 p.m.
The building has been sealed for safety reasons.