Sunday 17 December 2017

Massive blaze breaks out in Dubai tower - for the second time in less than three years

Flames shoot up the sides of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in this August 4, 2017 picture by Mitch Williams. Mitch Williams/Social Media Website/via REUTERS
Flames shoot up the sides of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in this August 4, 2017 picture by Mitch Williams. Mitch Williams/Social Media Website/via REUTERS
Smoke and fire rise from a high rise building at Marina district in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. A fire broke out after midnight Friday in one of the world's tallest residential towers in Dubai, engulfing part of the skyscraper and sending chunks of debris plummeting below. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Dubai Emergency Response teams and Dubai police are seen on the street near Dubai's Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early hours of August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Dubai Emergency Response teams and Dubai police are seen on the street near Dubai's Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early hours of August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Dubai Emergency Response teams and Dubai police are seen on the street near Dubai's Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early hours of August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Dubai Emergency Response teams and Dubai police are seen on the street near Dubai's Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early hours of August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi
Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi
Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi
Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in this August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
A still image taken from video shows emergency vehicles near the scene of the fire that broke out at Dubai's Torch Tower, early August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
Smoke and fire rise from a high rise building at Marina district in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. The high-rise residential tower has caught fire in the middle of the night, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and debris falling below. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Flames shoot up the sides of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in this August 4, 2017 picture by Mitch Williams. Mitch Williams/Social Media Website/via REUTERS

Malak Harb and Aya Batrawy

A fire broke out after midnight in one of the world's tallest residential towers in Dubai, engulfing part of the skyscraper and sending chunks of debris plummeting below.

More than 40 floors of the 86-storey Torch Tower were burning on one side of the building, an Associated Press journalist near the scene of the blaze said.

Building residents could be seen on the street outside crying with several saying the fire broke out just after 1am on Friday local time.

Dubai's civil defence announced at about 3.30am that firefighters had brought the blaze under control and that no injuries had been reported.

Dubai Emergency Response teams and Dubai police are seen on the street near Dubai's Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early hours of August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Dubai Emergency Response teams and Dubai police are seen on the street near Dubai's Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early hours of August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

"Cooling operations are underway," Dubai's official media office said on Twitter.

It was the second time in less than three years that the 335 metres high tower has been ravaged by fire.

The tower, located in the popular waterfront Marina district, caught fire in February 2015, but there were no major casualties reported in that blaze.

Early on Friday, authorities shared a photo of the charred and blackened tower but it was no longer visibly in flames. Officials said they were now working on providing shelter for those affected.

Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi
Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi

Dubai police cordoned off several streets around the building, keeping people away from the fire's falling debris.

Several skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates have caught fire in recent years, including a towering inferno that engulfed a 63-storey luxury hotel in Dubai on New Year's Eve in 2016.

Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi
Flames shoot up the side of the Torch tower residential building in the Marina district, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Abed Al Hadi Al Ramahi

In that blaze, as in others in Dubai in recent years, residents escaped without major injury.

Earlier this year, Dubai passed new fire safety rules requiring buildings with quick-burning side panelling to replace it with more fire-resistant siding.

Authorities have previously acknowledged that at least 30,000 buildings across the UAE have cladding or panelling that safety experts have said accelerates the rapid spread of fires.

A devastating tower fire in London in June killed at least 80 people and prompted Britain to order more thorough testing on the cladding systems of its towers.

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