At least 14 people have been injured and one killed after a fire engulfed a 63-story skyscraper in downtown Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The blaze broke out in the luxury hotel hours before a large New Year fireworks display began nearby from the Burj Khalifa tower witnesses said.
Witnesses said large tongues of flames shooting skywards enveloped The Address Hotel, which lies across a plaza from the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, as hundreds gathered to view the fireworks.
Houses and buildings in the vicinity were evacuated, Al Arabiya TV reported.
The Dubai government's media office tweeted that 14 people have been injured and that civil defense teams were working to evacuate the 984-foot-tall hotel and tackle the fire. One person died after a heart attack.
A medic on the scene who declined to be identified told Reuters, “There are more than 60 people injured with light injuries from smoke inhalation and from crowding while in the stairs evacuating the building.”
One resident staying on the 15th floor of the tower, completed in 2008, told Britain's Sky News of “absolute pandemonium” as those inside realized the building was ablaze.
“The alarms went off when the building was already properly on fire,” he said.
The government media office said the blaze started on the 20th floor, on the outside of the tower, and that internal firefighting systems worked to prevent it getting inside the hotel. Four fire brigade teams were at the site.
Despite billows of smoke from the fire continuing to cloud the sky, Dubai moved forward with the New Year's fireworks show as soon as the clock struck midnight.
Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, a Gulf Arab trade and investment hub.