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Massive explosion rocks Dubai

by Amy Glass and Dylan Bowman on Wednesday, 26 March 2008
MASSIVE EXPLOSION: As many as 20 of the 83 buildings in Al Quoz industrial area were ablaze following the massive explosion. (Kamelia Dimitrova)

A massive explosion at an illegal fireworks warehouse in the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai early Wednesday morning has sparked a huge fire, with black smoke stretching for miles across the city.

Over 20 of the 83 buildings in the area were engulfed in flames, but the blaze has now been bought under control, police said.

Police said at 4:00 pm the blaze was still burning, but they expected the fire would be fully extinguished by the end of the day.

Story continues below

General Saif Al Shafar, undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, told at the scene two people were dead and one was seriously injured in what he decribed as the biggest fire in the UAE's history.

The dead were believed to be security guards at the warehouse or surrounding buildings, he said.

The arrival of fire reinforcements from other emirates had been delayed by heavy traffic congestion, hampering efforts to contain the fire, he said.

The windy weather was not helping efforts to bring the massive blaze under control either, he added.

A large number of fire trucks, ambulances, police, civil defence are at the scene and authorities have erected blockages for at least a kilometre around the area.

According to reports on the radio, all schools in the area are in the process of being evacuated.

Al Shafar said an investigation into the illegal fireworks factory was underway and charges would follow.

The reporter said many police and emergency services are wearing masks to protect themselves from any potential toxic fumes and there have been reports on the radio of reduced oxygen levels in the area.

The smoke billowing from the area behind Sheikh Zayed Road has ground traffic to a standstill as motorists slowed down to look.

There were two explosions that started the fire. The first was at 7:10 am and was so large it could be felt up to six kilometres away, people at the scene said. The second smaller explosion happened at around 8:00 am.

One eyewitness at the scene told shortly after the fire began that there were lots of mini explosions continuing to go off inside the building.

Were you there? Did you take pictures or video? Leave your comments here, or contact This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or call 04 210 8563 with your eyewitness report.

First video footage of inferno
Eyewitness to enormous explosion that rocked Dubai has taken video footage of ensuing blaze.

Second video released
Second video of the explosion posted, footage shows mushroom cloud of smoke enveloping Dubai's skyline.


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Illegal or not illegal that's not the issue
Posted by Behrooz, Dubai, UAE on 27 March 2008 at 01:54 UAE time

Well. The warehouse had some illegal fireworks, which started the blaze. However, this cannot cover the fact that there is almost no preparation for this type of emergency in most of the places.

Security guards don't know anything about fire or other emergencies. In the best case they would note car plate numbers, if they can read it in the first place.
Fire doors? Suitable fire extinguishers? Fire alarm system? Tested wiring system? Approved technicians for gas or electric installations? ... Are you kidding me?

My child is studying in the UAE now for about five years. I haven't heard that they teach him how to pass the street, or what are the emergencies or how to run away from a fire.
I am reading daily papers. There is no sign of any public education or public announcements but big, full page picture of towers which surprisingly all of them are at highest level of quality and luxury (I wonder where are the lower levels?)

Landlords are only looking after their profits or rent payments instead of providing secure accommodation in exchange of the money they take and tenants don't feel responsibility to secure landlord's places.

Shops and restaurants, ... don't have emergency exits or there is no sign for it. Fire doors are not being used almost anywhere.

I can continue this list of disasters, but let's make the long story short: it is quite natural to see these many sort of incidents according to the situation we are living in.
Where is the water ?
Posted by Jonh S on 27 March 2008 at 00:30 UAE time

We have just learned that the water supply to major residential communities in dubai has been closed to feed the fire fighting activities at the scene.


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