More than a dozen people were hurt after massive fire broke out at a luxury hotel in Dubai just blocks from the world’s tallest skyscraper and the site of a planned New Year’s Eve fireworks show drawing crowds of thousands.
The fire apparently erupted outside the 20th floor of the 63-story Address Downtown, according to officials there.
Burning debris rained down from the building as trucks raced to the scene and workers evacuated people inside. The cause was unclear.
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City officials said as many as 15 people suffered injuries linked to smoke inhalation and overcrowding, but most injuries were minor.
A civil defense official said the fireworks show would go on as planned. Organizers had expected a million people to attend.
The fire broke out about two hours before midnight. The hotel towers over the Souq Al Bahar, a popular shopping area with walkways that connect the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall.
Nurse Stuart O’Donnell said he and others in the crowd wondered what had started the blaze. “I do feel suspicious of when a fire breaks out on New Year’s Eve,” he said.
Dubai planned to wow spectators with three separate firework displays. The show was to begin at the Burj Khalifa, which organizers said was fitted with 400,000 LED lights. They said 1.6 tons of fireworks would be used in the display.
From there, the fireworks were to light up the sky around the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and later down near the Dubai Marina. Fireworks also will be on display in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the country of seven emirates.
The world-famous Burj Khalifa is more than 2,700 feet tall.