MPs criticise Donner over fire response

28th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 October 2005 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner was sharply criticised in an emergency debate in Parliament over the Schiphol Airport detention centre blaze on Thursday night.

28 October 2005

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner was sharply criticised in an emergency debate in Parliament over the Schiphol Airport detention centre blaze on Thursday night.

Labour PvdA, green-left Groenlinks, Democrat D66 and the Socialist SP demanded the Christian Democrat CDA minister clarify a comment in which he said the fire had been adequately dealt with by authorities.

"With 11 deaths, you can't exactly say that the situation was adequately dealt with," D66 MP Lousewies van der Laan said.

The parties made clear during the debate that a thorough investigation into the fire — which broke out shortly after midnight on Wednesday night, killing 11 and injuring 15 others — was absolutely vital.

Coalition government parties the CDA and Liberal VVD were displeased about holding a debate so soon after the tragedy, stressing that it would have been better to wait.

The fire department has since started a technical inquiry into the blaze, while independent and public prosecution inquiries will also be carried out. Safety at other jail cells will be examined, Donner said.

In a letter to Parliament, Donner did not mention the circumstances of the fire or the course of events which took place. The first priority, according to the minister, is identifying the victims and contacting the victims' family.

Meanwhile, Dutch fire and disaster prevention institute Nibra has said the Schiphol detention centre did not meet fire safety regulations.

A Nibra spokesperson said the walls and ceilings caught fire within 30 minutes, the minimum time allowed by fire safety standards.

Nibra was entrusted with fire safety during the complex's construction, but did not examine at a later date whether its recommendations had been carried out.

The spokesman explained that legally, it was not Nibra's job to do so, but rather the municipality in charge of the building permits.

In other news, five detainees who escaped from the blazing detention centre were still on the run on Thursday night, Minister Donner said. In total, 11 detainees escaped, six of whom have been re-arrested.

The Schiphol detention centre houses people awaiting deportation from the Netherlands. The detainees include drug smugglers and illegal immigrants.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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