High-rise tower catches fire in United Arab Emirates

A high-rise tower caught fire late on Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates in a city-state neighbouring Dubai. The blaze at the 48-story Abbco Tower in Sharjah saw flaming debris shower neighbouring car parks lots and left metal siding littering surrounding streets. The 623ft tower is among the tallest buildings in Sharjah, one of the seven sheikhdoms that makes up the UAE.

The fire started around 9pm local time, just after those fasting for the holy month of Ramadan had finished their iftar meals. At least seven people suffered minor injuries in the blaze, the government-run Sharjah Media Office said on Twitter.

A fire burns on the side of a high-rise building in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (Jon Gambrell/AP)

Authorities gave no cause for the blaze, which smouldered into early Wednesday morning. Firefighters used a ladder truck to spray water into the building, whose cement-block walls stood charred and exposed after the fire.

Syrian Fadlallah Hassoun, who had just finished his day’s iftar meal in his apartment in the tower, told The Associated Press he initially dismissed the fire alarm as a test. He cradled his white cat, whom he rescued from the building. “Me and family just directly went down with everything we just had and what we were just wearing and we came down immediately,” Mr Hassoun said.

Many others similarly left the building with nothing other than their face masks required in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Hassoun praised authorities though for already contacting him there to help.

“They took our names so that they can see what they can do for us and help us because now we came out and we have no idea what we are going to do,” he said. “We are just waiting in the street and seeing what’s going to happen.”

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