A day after the fire that destroyed two dhows on the Dubai Creek, businessmen whose goods were loaded on the vessels, were struggling to come to terms with the situation.
Dozens of Somali businessmen gathered near the remains of the dhows on Sunday morning, trying to salvage goods from the scattered debris.
Meanwhile, Dubai Police is investigating the cause of the blaze. The fire broke out on a vessel carrying cars and spread to another one, destroying both vessels and their loads which included 15 cars, tyres, electronic goods, furniture, clothes and diesel.
One ship sank, and the damage to the two ships is still being assessed.
Dubai Civil Defence confirmed that there were gas cylinders on the boats which exploded during the fire. An estimated Dh20-million worth of cargo was ravaged by the fire. Goods worth an estimated Dh15 million were destroyed on one boat alone. Both boats were Indian owned, but chartered to different companies.
The fire is suspected to have started in the generator of the smaller boat named Jhulelal, which was tied to three other boats lying parallel to one another.
While two boats managed to escape, the flames spread to Bhakti Sagar, the bigger boat, despite the crew's efforts.
"Unable to control the fire we jumped off the dhow unhurt. We saw the entire boat go up in flames. With all the goods and our belongings completely gutted, we are depending on the charity of our fellow sailors from other boats for food and shelter," said Abdul Razzaq, who has been the captain of Bhakti Sagar for the last seven years, and is now training his son Feroze for the same job.
The 850-tonne capacity dhow, owned by an Indian company Baghyade Shipping Services, was ready to set sail for the last four days, but was delayed by inclement weather.
"We had everything ready, our boat was fully loaded, we had security and customs clearance. We were only waiting for the weather to clear and this thing happened," said Abdi Hassan, managing director of Mogadishu Shipping and Cargo, which had chartered the dhow.
The boat's owner Manik Nikurawala was expected to fly down from India later last night.
According to Hassan, the seven-year-old boat is insured, but the goods were not. He added that the boat had no fire safety equipment, which is true for most of the wooden dhows, which operate from the Deira Creek.
The police based in Port Rashid were not available for comments regarding fire safety on boats, but a senior official of Dubai Civil Defence said that foreign boats are not bound by local laws.
"Most of the boats that operate from Deira Creek are foreign based and they are not bound by local regulations.
"For Dubai-based boats we have strict norms to follow," said Major Ali Al Mutawa, director of operations at Dubai Civil Defence.
Hassan, who has been working from Deira Creek for 18 years, said: "We come across this problem every year, and we lose a lot of money and customers due to this."