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New Year's Eve skyscraper fire under investigation in Dubai

Investigators in Dubai are working to determine the cause of the fire that engulfed a 63-storey hotel building on New Year’s Eve. The fire broke out three hours before the city’s spectacular midnight fireworks display.

Firefighters on Friday have mostly extinguished the inferno that took hold of one of Dubai's most prominent skyscrapers on New Year's Eve.

Witnesses reported seeing plumes of white smoke still coming from the charred Address Downtown Dubai hotel and residential block in the afternoon, as firefighters continued to douse the building with water.

Civil defense crews reported they had mostly extinguished the flames which erupted around 9:30 p.m. (1730 UTC) on Thursday, which sparked initial panic but no reports of serious injuries.

Address Hotel Dubai Arabische Emirate Feuer Brand

The fire broke out three hours before the city’s spectacular midnight fireworks display

Local officials said 14 people were slightly injured, one moderately and one person suffered a heart attack during the evacuation. A medical officer on the scene said more than 60 people had been treated for mild smoke inhalation and problems caused by crowding as those in the building fled.

All victims have reportedly been discharged from hospital except a pregnant woman and an elderly man, the civil defence said.

Investigators have moved in to assess the scene and determine the cause of the inferno.

“The fire in the hotel has been contained. We would like to express our gratitude to the authorities for their immediate and professional support. An investigation is ongoing,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Reuters news agency.

Dubai's government media office issued a civil defence statement on Friday saying the process of cooling the hotel down was “ongoing.”

“Security services are investigating the causes and circumstances of the fire,” the statement read.

Many Twitter users praised the response of fire and emergency services, highlighting the fact there were no major injuries, though many questioned whether the New Year's celebrations should have gone ahead.

Anwar Gargash, the Emirati state minister for foreign affairs, defended the decision as “courageous” and “in favor of normal life against fear and pessimism.”

jlw/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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