independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Mum of tragic blaze student visits her daughter's body

22 year old Dace Zarina from Longford
Dace Zarina from Longford

THE heartbroken mother of a young woman who died in a horror blaze in Belgium has seen her daughter's body for the first time.

Irish students Dace Zarina (22), and her roommate Sara Gibadlo (19) died in the city of Leuven in Belgium on Friday morning after a fire tore through the student residence where they were staying.

The two girls were unable to escape and were found huddled together in a wardrobe in an attempt to escape the flames.

The devastated parents and siblings of Dace and Sara arrived in Leuven on Saturday. In the afternoon they visited the scene of the fire that claimed the lives of their loved ones. There they left flowers, photographs and notes outside the building.

Mother of Dace, Sanita Zarina, told the Irish Independent she was able to visit her daughter's body yesterday.

"Today is a very hard time," she said. "Today we saw her body, just a half hour ago." She was too upset to talk further.

It is understood when the bodies of the two young women are released, they will be brought to and buried in their home countries. Dace will be buried in Latvia while Sara will be buried in Poland.

The authorities in Belgium are no closer to discovering the cause of the deadly blaze.

It is believed the fire originated on the first floor of the building. There is some speculation a cigarette might have been the cause, but nothing has been confirmed.

Louis Roppe, board member of the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe, said it would take some time before the cause of the fire was known, if at all.

"There is no conclusion yet, and that will be of course difficult to do. Police are still going on with the investigation. Everyone concerned is being thoroughly interviewed."

He said he met with the families of Dace and Sara, who were "devastated" and "searching for answers".

"We have done everything we could to accommodate them. The police have been wonderful. They are devastated of course. They have a lot of questions about everything, like everybody has," he said.

Dace and Sara were second-year students studying a Bachelor of Business degree in Hotel and Catering Management in GMIT's main Galway campus.

They had just started a 30-week Erasmus work placement in the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe in January.

Fiona Ellis

Irish Independent

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