Auckland Christmas house fire claims fourth victim

Kailesh Thanabalasingham was a long-time advocate for refugees in New Zealand.
SUPPLIED

Kailesh Thanabalasingham was a long-time advocate for refugees in New Zealand.

A father who was seriously injured in a south Auckland house fire that killed three members of his family has now died.

Kailesh Thanabalasingham, 47, had been in a coma for weeks at Middlemore Hospital following the blaze on December 22.

Family spokesperson Deborah Manning confirmed his death on Friday morning.

From left: Umadhevi Theiventhiran (65), Bareth Kailesh (5), and Bhamini Theiventhiran (39) all died in the house fire.
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From left: Umadhevi Theiventhiran (65), Bareth Kailesh (5), and Bhamini Theiventhiran (39) all died in the house fire.

"I can confirm that Kailesh passed this morning in the early hours, due to pneumonia," she said.

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"The family are devastated, and focusing on his daughter, and asking for privacy."

The fire ripped through the upstairs level of the family home on December 22.
NICOLE LAWTON

The fire ripped through the upstairs level of the family home on December 22.

Thanabalasingham's wife Bhamini Theiventhiran, 39, their five-year-old son Bareth Kaileshan and Bhamini's mother, Umadhevi Theiventhiran, all died after becoming trapped when the family's Flat Bush home went up in flames.

The three of them were farewelled at a joint funeral service at Manukau Memorial Gardens on January 5.

Thanabalasingham was still in a coma at the time of the funeral.

Flowers were left outside the home on Plantation Ave following the fatal blaze.
NICOLE LAWTON / FAIRFAX NZ

Flowers were left outside the home on Plantation Ave following the fatal blaze.

He later regained consciousness, but it's not clear whether he knew that three members of his family had died.

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Thanabalasingham arrived in New Zealand as a refugee more than 10 years ago.

Dr Ann Hood, the chief executive officer of Refugees As Survivors New Zealand, said his life "encapsulates the spirit of what it means to be a refugee".

"He arrived in New Zealand with nothing. Within just a few years he created a safe place for his family to grow up, built a very successful career and worked tirelessly to support his own community and new refugee families settling in New Zealand," she said. 

"He touched the lives of so many people with his warm and sunny nature and his compassion and determination to make a difference.

"New Zealand is a richer place as a result of his efforts to foster a humane and inclusive society where all people are respected and valued."

Givealittle page created to support Thanabalasingham following the tragedy has now raised more than $80,000.

Refugees As Survivors New Zealand outreach coordinator Diana Swarbrick, who set up the page, said all the money raised would go into a trust for Thanabalasingham's 11-year-old daughter, Krishah.

She was being cared for by Thanabalasingham's aunts.

Umadhevi Theiventhiran and her husband were visiting from Canada to see their daughter and her family when the fire broke out.

Neighbours described hearing screams and breaking glass as the fire consumed the Plantation Ave home.

The alarm was raised by Krishah, who fled onto the street crying that her family were still inside.

Thanabalasingham also escaped with his father-in-law Theiventhiran, and was seen sitting burned and bleeding on the street before being rushed to Middlemore.

Krishah was also hospitalised for a brief time.

The day after the fire family friend Sivaram Anandsivam said she was inconsolable following the loss of her mother, grandmother, and brother.

"She's crying all the time," he said.

Anandsivam said the grandfather was also in shock, but trying his best to support his devastated granddaughter.

"He came all the way from Canada, and he's lost his wife, and daughter, and grandchild," he said.

"He's speechless, and trying to console his granddaughter, but she's crying all the time, saying 'I won't be having my mother or brother any more in my life', so it's really upsetting."

Thanabalasingham's death will be referred to the Coroner.

 - Stuff

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