Fire on ship causes explosion that rocks Dubai

by The Associated Press (APR)

A container ship anchored in Dubai at one of the world’s largest ports caught fire late Wednesday, authorities said, causing an explosion that sent tremors across the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates.

The blaze sent up giant orange flames on a vessel docked at the crucial Jebel Ali Port, the busiest in the Middle East, which sits on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. The combustion unleashed a shock wave through the city, shaking buildings and windows in neighborhoods as far as 25 kilometers (15 miles) away from the port.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, the government said.

Dubai authorities issued a statement early Thursday saying that emergency services had brought the blaze under control. The Dubai Media Office posted footage of firefighters dousing giant shipping containers. The glow of the blaze was visible in the background as civil defense crews worked to contain the fire.

Damage not known

The extent of damage caused to the sprawling port and surrounding cargo was not immediately clear. The cause of the fire also was not immediately known.

At around 11:45 p.m., people in Dubai recording with their phones from high-rises at a distance posted frantic videos on social media showing a fiery ball illuminating the night sky.

The Jebel Ali Port at the northern end of Dubai is the largest man-made deep-water harbor in the world and the largest port in the Middle East. It’s the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the U.S. 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 port is not only a critical global cargo hub, but a lifeline for Dubai and surrounding emirates, serving as the point of entry for essential imports

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.