Dubai New Year's fireworks go ahead as fire engulfs highrise hotel
Extent of damage, injuries remains unclear as explosions shake 63-storey tower
A fire engulfed The Address Hotel in downtown Dubai in the United Arab Emirates hours before a large New Year's Eve fireworks display was set to start nearby from the Burj Khalifa tower.
The extent of the damage and injuries remains unclear. Officials say one person suffered a heart attack during the evacuation, and another 14 suffered minor injuries.
However, a medic on the scene, who declined to be identified, told the Reuters news agency there were "more than 60 people injured with light injuries from smoke inhalation and from crowding while in the stairs evacuating the building."
Screen shot of <a href="https://twitter.com/dearsina">@dearsina</a>'s Periscope streaming the Dubai building fire + fireworks display <a href="https://t.co/WmsXbwcqyc">https://t.co/WmsXbwcqyc</a> <a href="https://t.co/UEjvdYl6dl">pic.twitter.com/UEjvdYl6dl</a>—@sclary
A civil defence official had earlier told the Al Arabiya television network there were no injuries.
At about 11 p.m. local time officials said 90 per cent of the fire was under control, and would be fully controlled within half an hour.
The New Year's Eve celebrations would go ahead as planned, they said.
However, as the clock closed in on midnight, the 63-storey tower was still engulfed in flames and smoke, and was rattled by at least two large explosions.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which ran up at least 20 storeys of the 63-storey, 244-room hotel.
Dubai right now! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/horrific?src=hash">#horrific</a>!! Address Hotel on fire <a href="https://t.co/Q5qzGuBYRO">pic.twitter.com/Q5qzGuBYRO</a>—@AtiehS
Throughout the evening large flames shot skyward from the 244-room luxury hotel, which lies across a plaza from the Burj Khalifa, billed as the tallest building in the world, at about 828 metres.
Burning debris rained down from the tower as fire trucks raced to the scene.
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said guests at the hotel will be provided alternative hotel arrangements.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MyDubaiNewYear?src=hash">#MyDubaiNewYear</a> ... Burj Khalifa kicks breath-taking firework show <a href="https://t.co/OVe4TtcdfG">pic.twitter.com/OVe4TtcdfG</a>—@DXBMediaOffice
The planned fireworks show went as scheduled at midnight, while plumes of smoke billowed in the air from a fire raging at the nearby tower.
Tens of thousands of people whistled and cheered at the display taking place at the Burj Khalifa.
Organizers said earlier 1.45 tonnes of fireworks would be used in the display.
The fireworks were scheduled to light up the sky around the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and later down near the Dubai Marina. Fireworks were also set off in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the country of seven emirates.
- A previous version of this story reported that officials had said one person died of a heart attack. In fact, officials did not say the heart attack was fatal.Dec 31, 2015 3:51 PM ET
With files from CBC News and Reuters