A FATHER is said to be in a critical condition in hospital following a fire that claimed the life of his wife on Monday night.
Kalimuthu Annadurai, 48, was being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) yesterday, having suffered burns and smoke inhalation in the blaze at their Manama apartment.
His wife Mala Annadurai died in the fire, which happened while their 15-year-old son Thirumal Varnan was receiving tuition outside the home.
Mr Annadurai’s two brothers, who also lived there, were also out at the time.
Sources told the GDN the flames spread rapidly throughout the second-floor apartment because of highly flammable materials stored there, which allegedly included firecrackers, incense sticks, oil and camphor.
The fire is said to have started when Ms Annadurai, 36, was performing a Hindu lamp lighting ritual inside the living room of the three-bedroom apartment.
It is believed the flammable materials were present because of the Hindu harvest festival Pongal, which started on Sunday.
Mr and Mrs Annadurai, from India, run the Oliander Flowers shop located on the ground floor of the property where the fire happened in the Manama Suq.
“The family lived with Mr Annadurai’s two brothers in the second-floor apartment and they had their shop and store on the ground floor,” said sources. “As we learn the man received a shipment of firecrackers days ago, before the Tamil festival of Pongal, which was in the hall near where they performed puja (a Hindu ritual involving lamps) every day.
“The shipment also had incense sticks, camphor packs and oil.
“It was around 9pm and the woman was doing the light offering, but a lit lamp with oil fell on the pile of firecrackers and the camphor added to the flames.
“The woman was declared dead on the spot while the man, who suffered heavily from smoke inhalation, was resuscitated by medics and was taken to SMC.
“The couple’s son, who was out for tuition, came back by 10pm and police did not allow him to enter the building.”
The GDN reported yesterday that police evacuated the building as a precautionary measure, including another family of three who live on the first floor.
Prominent Tamil community leader and businessman Mohammed Malim said he was liaising with the authorities on the repatriation of the deceased’s body. He added police were investigating and had retained both Mr and Mrs Annadurai’s passports while an inquiry is carried out.
“We as a community are with the family at this time of grief and will do all that is needed to repatriate the body at the earliest,” he said.
Indian Embassy second secretary Anand Prakash added the embassy was awaiting a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the couple’s older son, Aadinesan Annadurai, a medical student in the Czech Republic.
“The man is unconscious and his son, who is here, is a minor,” he explained. “Hence we need an NOC from a family member, which will be the older son who is outside Bahrain.
“As soon as we get it, we will process the repatriation.”
Meanwhile, another relative told the GDN the couple sold flowers and items for religious rituals from their shop.
“I last saw them on Sunday and we all had lunch together,” added Subrahmanian Kalimuthu. “The family has been here for over 20 years and the shop was started by Mr Annadurai’s older brother.
“I don’t know how the fire started, I came to know about it by 10pm when I was informed by a cousin from India.
“By the time I reached he was taken to hospital and his wife’s body was removed to the morgue.
“I don’t know anything about firecrackers, but they were selling items for temple rituals and flowers.”