Anger grows over preventable deaths

29.06.2020 - 16:37
Mynd: Grímur Jón Sigurðsson / RÚV
Discussion has reignited in Iceland over the treatment of foreign workers by some employers and agencies, after three died and two were hospitalised with serious injuries in a house fire on Thursday. The poor condition of the house was reportedly well-known to its owners and the authorities. Hundreds gathered yesterday to show their respect and to demand change.

The aftermath of the fire was the main topic of conversation in today’s episode of The Week in Iceland, and has been high on the news agenda of all Icelandic media over the weekend. 

Police are still investigating the cause of the fire and have yet to make public the names of the three casualties. 

It is believed between 10 and 12 people lived in the house, but 72 people were officially registered as resident. Stundin published a story about the poor state of Bræðraborgarstígur 1 as early as December 2015 and the City of Reykjavík sent a buildings inspector to the address six months later. The inspector’s recommendations never received a reply. They were never followed up because the owners of the house applied for planning permission to make changes. The application was denied and the inspector’s report slipped through the gaps. The house received little in the way of improvements or maintenance before it was destroyed by fire last week. 

Click play above for scenes from yesterday’s peaceful rally and click play below for a short interview in English with one of the residents who survived the fire. Andor Tibor Vasile is 40, from Romania, and has lived in Iceland for seven years. He was rescued by fire fighters on a ladder but lost all his possessions in the fire, as well as a friend whom he had known for five years.

Mynd: RÚV / RÚV
Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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