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article imageAll residents evacuated from Dubai hotel fire: police chief

By AFP     Dec 31, 2015 in World

A huge fire ripped through a luxury Dubai hotel on Thursday near the world's tallest tower, where people were gathering to watch New Year's Eve celebrations, authorities said.

The Dubai government media office tweeted that a "fire has been reported in the Address Downtown hotel. Authorities are currently on-site to address the incident swiftly and safely".

The head of the emirates' civil defence forces, Rached al-Matruchi, told Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television that the blaze did not cause any casualties.

All the residents of the Dubai hotel have been evacuated, the emirate's police chief said, adding that the cause of the blaze is still unknown.

"All the residents are out," General Khamis Matar al-Mzeima said.

"Until the fire is put out, we will not have information on what caused it," he added.

The 63-storey building was engulfed in flames across several storeys as sirens wailed and helicopters hovered overhead, according to witnesses.

Witness Raphael Slama told AFP that the fire started at around 9.30 pm (1730 GMT) and rapidly spread upwards across dozens of floors.

"People are being evacuated," he said.

The Address Downtown hotel burns after a huge fire on December 31  2015
The Address Downtown hotel burns after a huge fire on December 31, 2015
Karim Sahib, AFP

The hotel is close to the Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest skyscraper.

Dubai authorities said earlier Thursday that they had deployed thousands of security personnel to ensure visitors and residents could enjoy the New Year's festivities safely.

The emirate had promised a "spectacular" fireworks display that was set to kick-off at midnight from the Burj Khalifa before spreading to various locations across the city.

A spokeswoman for the Dubai government said on her Twitter account said the celebrations would go ahead "according to schedule" despite the fire.

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