Minor injuries reported at Dubai port explosion as sailors flee blaze

Officials have identified the material that sparked fire

A blast on board a ship at Dubai's Jebel Ali Port has caused minor injuries.

Crews from five fire stations brought the blaze under control in the early hours of Thursday.

Authorities said the fire broke out as the ship was preparing to dock at one of the berths in the port

Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said no fatalities were reported from the blaze on the small ship.

"All 14 sailors were safely evacuated,” he said.

Police said the fire broke out in a small-size cargo ship carrying 130 containers, three of which contained flammable material.

Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, the head of Dubai Civil Defence, said an investigation would find out the cause of the fire on the vessel carrying 777 containers.

"We have identified the material, we know its nature," he told reporters.

"Experts from Dubai Police have launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire."

Officials said smoke was first spotted coming from the container.

There were minor injuries - described as primarily bumps and scrapes - as crew fled from the ship and the area was evacuated, an official said.

The number of people injured was not disclosed.

The fire began in a container that was marked as containing flammable material, the official said.

Evacuation of the vessel and the nearby area was ordered immediately after an alert was sounded when smoke was noticed from the ship.

Port authorities said terminal one, where the fire occurred, resumed normal operations early on Thursday morning.

The fire sent up orange flames over the port, which were captured by residents from high rise apartments.

Debris, charred containers and billowing smoke could be seen as firefighters doused the ship, in video released by the Dubai Media Office.

Port authorities said they were taking "all necessary measures to ensure the normal movement of ships in the port continues without any disruption".

The blast caused windows to rattle and homes to shake kilometres away from the port. Residents took to social media with messages saying they had heard a loud bang.

"I heard a loud boom and our house literally shook," said Manal Aziz, a resident of Furjan neighbourhood near Jebel Ali.

"I thought something had happened inside my house. I was afraid to go and check."

Talal Alhashmi, chief executive of Jaheziya, a company that provides emergency firefighting and rescue services in industrial and aviation sectors, said quick reaction times were crucial.

“The rapid response to fire emergencies is of utmost importance and the actions taken in the initial minutes of an emergency are critical,” he said.

“Fires involving hazardous materials are considered among the most challenging emergencies. If not properly addressed from the outset, it entails the risk of extensive damage and casualties.”

He said the fire was brought under control in Jebel Ali Port due to deployment of well-trained personnel.

“It is critically important to follow an all-inclusive approach to firefighting and rescue services in order to prevent and prepare for eventualities such as this,” Mr Al Hashmi said.

“Where fire department response times are short and sufficient resources and well-trained personnel are deployed, we are much more likely to see a positive outcome, like we had this morning.”

Jebel Ali Port is the busiest in the Middle East region and the 10th largest in the world. The port is a vital global cargo hub.

Operated by DP World, it berths the largest ships and connects the markets of the Gulf, African and Indian subcontinent.

Updated: July 8th 2021, 2:29 PM
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