Fire engulfs Dubai hotel near world's tallest building
Fire engulfed a skyscraper in Dubai on Thursday night, but with the block evacuated and only minor injuries reported a New Year's fireworks display at the nearby world's tallest building went ahead.
Tongues of flame shot skywards from one side of the luxury Address Downtown Dubai hotel and residential block, which stands across a plaza from the 160-storey Burj Khalifa tower where people had gathered for fireworks to mark the New Year.
Television pictures showed pieces of blazing debris raining down from The Address as evacuated occupants hurried away from the building, some running.
A fire has been reported in the Address Downtown hotel. Authorities are currently on-site to address the incident swiftly and safely #Dubai— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) December 31, 2015
"We came out on my balcony to look at the Burj. All the buildings around here had fireworks prepped on the roof," Paul Mithun, a US consultant in downtown Dubai said.
"We were like, huh, that looks like a little Olympic torch off in the distance. We thought someone lit fireworks.
"In under two minutes, the fire went up two-thirds of the length of the hotel. I watched the whole thing. It was real bad."
But as midnight struck, with the building continuing to burn, onlookers cheered as a swirling mass of multicoloured fireworks enveloped the Burj Khalifa.
The Dubai government's media office said the Address blaze was 90 per cent under control.
Police chief Major General Khamis Matar told Al Arabiya television: "All residents of the hotel were evacuated and there are 14 injured, with light injuries."
A medic on the scene who declined to be identified told Reuters: "There are more than 60 people injured with light injuries from smoke inhalation and from crowding while in the stairs evacuating the building."
One resident staying on the 15th floor of the tower, completed in 2008, told Britain's Sky News of "absolute pandemonium" as those inside realised the building was ablaze.
"The alarms went off when the building was already properly on fire," he said.
MOMENTS OF PANIC
Police evacuated a viewing area near the base of the Burj Khalifa.
The fire at the Address building had taken hold in minutes.
"Oh my God!" shouted one witness who happened to see the first few moments.
"The flames were running up one side of the building, reaching about halfway up ... Flames were licking upwards and out. Orange and yellow," the witness said.
As the evacuation proceeded, there were moments of panic.
"There's more shouting. It's more panicked this time, many voices, some screams," the witness said.
The Dubai media office said the blaze had started on the 20th floor, on the outside of the 300-metre tower, and that internal fire-fighting systems were operating to try to prevent it getting inside the hotel.
Every year, Dubai stages one of the world's most spectacular fireworks displays from the 160-storey Burj, which opened in 2010 and stands almost 830 metres tall.
This year's show was to begin at the Burj Khalifa, which organisers said was fitted with 400,000 LED lights. They said 1.6 tons of fireworks would be used in the display.
From there, the fireworks were to light up the sky around the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and later down near the Dubai Marina.
Dubai is a trade, tourism and investment hub for the Gulf region, and is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).