World

Man in Dubai hotel blaze feared he might not see 2016

Address Downtown hours before New Year fireworks

A huge fire ripped through a luxury Dubai hotel on Thursday night and injured 16 people a few hours before the emirate celebrated the new year with a fireworks display nearby.

The Address Downtown hotel, located a few blocks from the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, was engulfed in flames across several storeys.

A photographer who was in the building at the time thought he might not live to see 2016.

Not long before the fire broke out, the photographer, who did not want to be named, had entered the building's balcony to take photographs of the nearby New Year's Eve fireworks display for his newspaper.

But then a huge fire erupted.

Unable to see how he could escape, he decided to tie himself to a window-cleaning platform with a rope and hang off the balcony.

He rolled out 30m of heavy-duty cable used by workers to clean the tower windows from a nearby machine, attached it to his belt and photography equipment and stepped off the edge.

Hanging less than 10m from the fire, he thought: "One hour, then that's it - I'm dead."

RESCUE

More than half an hour later, he heard rescue workers approaching his floor.

"When I saw lights and heard the sounds of footsteps at the floor I was in, I started tapping on the aluminium to get their attention," he said.

"I think I was the only person left stuck that long," he added, describing how he was led out through the smoke-filled corridors of the five-star hotel.

Dubai's police chief said all the hotel residents had been evacuated.

The fire had still not been extinguished some four hours after it started. It is not known what caused it.

A tweet from the media office read: "At least 14 people have been slightly injured, along with one medium injury, and a heart attack case registered due to people pushing".

A witness, Raphael Slama, told AFP that the fire started at about 9.30pm and spread rapidly upwards across dozens of floors.

The hotel is one of the tallest buildings in Dubai, with seven lounges and restaurants and a beauty spa, according to its website.

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