First international flights after Nairobi airport fire

Authorities investigate cause of fire at Nairobi airport

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Some international flights have landed at Nairobi's international airport a day after fire gutted the arrivals hall, causing serious disruption.

A plane from London was the first to land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 06:30 local time (03:30 GMT), Kenyan airport authorities said.

Other planes from Bangkok and Kilimanjaro also arrived.

The cause of the fire is not yet known. Kenyan authorities say no serious injuries were reported.

The Nairobi airport is a regional hub serving more than 16,000 passengers daily and its closure caused widespread disruption.

International flights into the city had been diverted to other airports in Eldoret and the coastal city of Mombasa.

On Wednesday the interior ministry announced the resumption of domestic and cargo services.

The fire took about four hours to bring under control, by which time the arrivals hall had been gutted.

'Completely destroyed'

The Kenya Airport Authority told the BBC that Kenya Airways flights were arriving and taking off "now at more or less normal operations".

Other international airlines had not yet clarified their operations, it added.

The fire started in the airport's international arrivals and immigration area at around 05:00 on Wednesday and spread quickly.

People watch dense black smoke billowing from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, early on Wednesday The fire is believed to have started in the immigration zone at about 05:00 (02:00 GMT)
A blaze rages the arrivals hall at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday It turned into a huge blaze that spread to the arrivals area
Black smoke billows from the international arrival unit of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday morning Some reports said heavy traffic on the road to the airport hindered emergency vehicles
Firefighters walk amid debris from a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi on Wednesday But some four hours after the blaze took hold it was reported to be controlled, with senior officials praising the work of the emergency services
Stranded passengers and onlookers gather after a fire disrupted all operations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi on Wednesday Would-be passengers were left stranded
Dark smoke rises from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday The fire sent up plumes of black smoke that could be seen from elsewhere in the capital Nairobi

Questions are being asked about why so few fire engines were available initially.

It appears that some engines got stuck in the Kenyan capital's notorious traffic jams. Many engines at the scene also quickly ran out of water.

Soldiers and police even came with buckets to help put out the fire, Sylvia Amondi, who was at the airport to pick up a relative who had been due to arrive there, told AFP news agency.

"The international arrivals station has been completely destroyed, the roof has caved in and the floor is covered in debris and water," she said.

Jomo Kenyatta Airport

  • Busiest airport in east and central Africa, and seventh busiest in Africa
  • Handles six million passengers a year
  • Hub for neighbouring countries as well as cities as far away as Lagos, Johannesburg and Cairo - as well as gateway to continent for Europe and Asia
  • Serves 49 destinations in 23 countries, across five continents
  • Key export point for Kenya's flower industry, one of the country's top foreign exchange earners - Kenyan flowers account for 35% of flowers imported into the EU

A third of Europe's flower imports, and many fresh vegetables, come from Kenya and the Kenya Flower Council exporters' association described the fire as "disastrous".

Shares in Kenya Airways, which uses the airport as its main hub, fell 2% after the fire.

Foreign airlines which use the terminal include British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, KLM, Turkish Airlines, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. Several cancelled flights to Nairobi on Wednesday.

The country's anti-terrorism chief, Boniface Mwaniki, has said he does not believe the fire - which happened on the 15th anniversary of the bombings by al-Qaeda of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - was connected to terrorism.

Correspondents say the airport is old and overcrowded.

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