Guards 'didn't take Schiphol fire seriously'

27th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 October 2005, BRUSSELS — Detainees who survived the Schiphol Airport fire which killed 11 people on Thursday morning have complained that guards underestimated the seriousness of the blaze.

27 October 2005

BRUSSELS — Detainees who survived the Schiphol Airport fire which killed 11 people on Thursday morning have complained that guards underestimated the seriousness of the blaze.

One detainee said guards didn't want to believe the inmates' alarm over the smoke, claiming wardens said there was nothing to be worried about.

"We remained locked up. Our throats were hurting", explained one of the inmates to Radio 1 Journal.

The inmates then kicked cell doors and started screaming as panic spread. The fire spread so fast that some of the detainees lost their shoes, according to RTL News.

The cause of the blaze, the worst in the Netherlands in years, is not yet known. It was the second fire at the jail complex since it opened in 2002.

Haarlemmermeer Council has said an independent investigation will be conducted into the emergency response effort. The public prosecution office will also launch criminal inquiries.

Meanwhile, in addition to the 11 dead, four of the 15 people wounded in the Schiphol fire are still in hospital, one of whom was seriously hurt.

The other 11 patients have been discharged from hospital after receiving treatment.

Helicopters have been deployed to find any detainees who might have escaped in the chaos of the fire, but no further arrests have been made.

It was earlier reported that police had arrested three escapees.

About half of the 350 detainees held at the detention centre have been moved to other locations, such as Zeist and Rotterdam.

Buses are still busy moving the detainees to other locations, RTL News reported.

The fire raged in 10 of the 12 cells in one of the 24 cell-wings of the airport's detention centre, which houses people awaiting deportation from the Netherlands.

Hundreds of cocaine smugglers, mostly from the Netherlands Antilles and other parts of the Caribbean, are detained at the airport every year, along with illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, BBC reported.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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