A 5-star Dubai hotel became engulfed in flames as the city was preparing for New Year’s Eve celebrations, with 16 people receiving injuries. Firefighters are currently battling the fire at the 302-meter tall Address Downtown Dubai.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which covered at least 20 stories of the building near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper. Burning debris rained down from the building as firetrucks raced to the scene.
Al Arabiya reported that one person was killed during a stampede in the process of evacuation, however this information has not yet been confirmed by officials.
Eyewitnesses told Sky News that firefighters’ access is complicated by structure and crowds.
Civil defense representative said that all residents have been evacuated, and people are being moved out of the Dubai Mall located nearby.
The fire engulfed the hotel from the outside and did not spread inside, according to Dubai’s media office. Officials said that the firefighters have sustained most of the fire, however have not yet extinguished it completely.
— Nisar Talabany (@NisarT) December 31, 2015
As the building just caught fire, panic was reported in the area around the hotel and social media users posted videos of people running away from the scene in crowds.
The Address Downtown and residential compound has nearly 200 rooms and over 600 apartments. The hotel is situated about 2km from Burj Khalifa, one of the sites of New Year’s festivities.
Officials say they plan to go ahead with the festivities, which include three displays beginning at the Burj Khalifa. The skyscraper is decorated with 400,000 LED lights, while the fireworks display will feature 1.6 tons of pyrotechnics.
In February, a massive fire broke out in the Marina Torch, a residential skyscraper at the Dubai Marina. The residents were evacuated and no fatalities were reported in that incident.