A container ship in Dubai has exploded into a huge fireball, sending tremors for 15 miles across the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates.
The blaze sent up giant orange flames on the vessel which was preparing to dock at the Jebel Ali Port on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula – the busiest in the Middle East.
The cause of the blast is still unknown, but Dubai police said that the ship, crewed by 14 people, was carrying three containers of flammable materials.
‘A fire caused by an explosion within a container on board a ship at Jebel Ali Port has been brought under control; no casualties have been reported,’ the Dubai Media Office wrote on Twitter.
The combustion unleashed a shock wave through the city, shaking buildings and windows in neighborhoods as far as 15 miles away from the port where many British expats live.
Civil defence firefighters worked to control the fire at Dubai’s main port of Jebel Ali following an explosion on a container ship that was carrying flammable materials
A container ship in Dubai has exploded into a huge fireball, sending tremors for 15 miles across the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates
The port is a key part of the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), a free trade area which is home to 8,000 companies and contributed 23% of Dubai’s gross domestic product last year.
It is even capable of handling aircraft carriers and was the US Navy’s busiest port of call outside of the United States in 2017, according to the US Congressional Research Service.
The port authority said it was ‘taking all necessary measures to ensure the normal movement of ships in the port continues without any disruption’, according to the Dubai Media Office.
Mona al-Marri, director general of Dubai Media Office, told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV that this incident ‘could happen anywhere in the world’, but such events are a rarity in the ultra-secure Gulf emirate, one of seven which make up the wealthy United Arab Emirates.
Early Thursday, the Dubai government issued a statement saying that emergency services had brought the blaze under control.
Authorities posted footage on social media of firefighters dousing giant shipping containers.
Firefighters successfully brought the blaze under control but the extent of the damage to the port is as yet unknown
Authorities posted footage on social media of firefighters dousing giant shipping containers
The blaze sent up giant orange flames on a vessel at the crucial Jebel Ali Port, the busiest in the Middle East, which sits on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula
The extent of damage caused to the sprawling port and surrounding cargo was not immediately clear.
At around 11.45pm residents of Dubai recording with their phones from high-rises posted frantic videos on social media showing a fiery ball illuminating the night sky.
A resident of Dubai’s Marina district, close to the Jebel Ali port, told AFP: ‘I have been living here for 15 years and this is the first time I’ve seen and heard this.’
The Jebel Ali Port at the northern end of Dubai is the largest man-made deep-water harbor in the world and serves cargo from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Asia.
Operated by the Dubai-based DP World, the port has four sprawling container terminals that can berth some of the world’s largest ships.
The nighttime view of the Jebel Ali Port where the incident occured. Jebel Ali port is the largest in the Middle East and is a key part of the Jebel Ali Free Zone, home to 8,000 companies and generator of 23% of Dubai’s GDP
Early Thursday, the Dubai government issued a statement saying that emergency services had brought the blaze under control
The extent of damage caused to the sprawling port and surrounding cargo was not immediately clear
DP World describes Jebel Ali Port as a ‘gateway hub’ and a ‘vital link in the global trade network’ that connects eastern and western markets.
The company did not immediately issue any public statement on the blast.
The glitzy Gulf emirate of Dubai has transformed itself over 50 years from a sleepy port town to a regional travel, trade and financial services centre.
The city state is now home to more than three million people, mostly foreigners, compared with only 15,000 inhabitants in the 1950s.
Unlike Abu Dhabi, the leading member of the UAE that sits on a large wealth of petroleum, Dubai has dwindling oil resources and has worked to develop non-oil industries, diversifying into services.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.