A huge explosion erupted on a ship anchored in Dubai on Wednesday, sending tremors across the commercial hub of the United Arab Emirates, local authorities said. The ship was anchored at the crucial Jebel Ali Port, the busiest in the Middle East that sits on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula.
However, no casualties have been reported and the fire was brought under control after a long struggle, authorities said. According to local media reports, buildings as far as 25 kilometers were shaken by the explosion, which many initially thought to be a blast.
Rocking the City
The explosion that took place on Wednesday night sent up giant orange flames on a vessel at Jebel Ali Port. The explosion unleashed a shock wave through the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai, causing walls and windows to shake in neighborhoods as far as 15 miles away from the port.
Residents initially thought the port city was under attack but soon realized that the blaze was coming out from an anchored commercial ship. Shocking video shows panicked residents filming the blaze from their high-rises as a fiery ball illuminated the night sky.
"A fire caused by an explosion within a container on board a ship at Jebel Ali Port has been brought under control; no casualties have been reported," the Dubai Media Office (DMO) later said on Twitter. They also posted photos of firefighters trying to extinguish the huge flames.
The Dubai government later issued a statement saying that emergency services had brought the blaze under control. However, it took more than two-and-a-half hours for the emergency services to get control over the fire.
Authorities haven't released the name of the commercial vessel and other details of the vessel. Also, the exact cause of the fire hasn't been revealed although and investigation has been launched. Several residents complained that the windows and doors of their building were broken due to the impact of the blast.
The huge flames and the blast suggest that the ship contained highly combustible substance. According to a Dubai police commander, who spoke the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV, the fire broke out in one of the containers that contained highly combustible material. However, he didn't elaborate further.
The Jebel Ali Port is located at the northern end of Dubai. It's the largest man-made deep-water harbor in the world and an important global cargo hub. It is also the lifeline for Dubai and surrounding emirates, as it serves vessels from the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia and Southeast Asia.
The extent of damage caused to the sprawling port and surrounding cargo was not immediately clear. Port officials said they were "taking all necessary measures to ensure that the normal movement of vessels continues without any disruption".
That said, the ship's crew has also been evacuated and are safe.