'It was the only way of getting out' - Son straps disabled mother to his back to escape Dubai fire
Published 01/01/2016 | 12:51
A brave son saved his mother from the towering Dubai inferno on New Year's Eve by strapping her to his back and carrying her out.
British man Angus Villar told Sky News that it was the "only way" to get his disabled mother out of the building safely.
"‘I was on the 15th floor in the kitchen opening some champagne. My father went out onto the balcony and came back and screamed 'the hotel is on fire'".
"There were five of us… My mother, I strapped her to my back, it was the only way of getting out of the building. It was utter pandemonium".
He told Sky News that people were "shoving each other down the stairs and climbing over each other" to get out of the building.
"You'd expect people to let women and children go first, but it was pretty much people shoving each other down the stairs and climbing over each other"
"There were a lot of hotel staff directing people to various exits and stuff, but there was no clarity about what happened."
"We’re definitely still in a state of alarm".
Villar explained that he "only took my valuables, i.e my phone... and my mother".
Fourteen people were injured in the fire, with one suffering a heart attack during an evacuation.
The fire broke out at Address Downtown Hotel around 9.30pm local time on New Year's Eve, just three hours before the New Year's Eve fireworks were due to begin at the nearby Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
Around 1million people had gathered to watch Dubai's award-winning fireworks show from the skyscraper.
People ran to safety inside a nearby mall when the blaze erupted. The fire affected at least twenty stories of the hotel.
Firefighters fought the blaze for more than twelve hours, which eventually burned out this morning. PA reports that they "largely watched the fire from the ground, unable at one point to use a water hose on a ladder truck".
Major General Rashed al-Matrushi, general director of the Dubai Civil Defence, said last night that the blaze "will not affect the celebration". He was speaking on a Sky News live broadcast.