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Dubai: Irish people witness massive skyscraper fire

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Media captionAnita Williams was in the hotel when it caught fire and described a stampede as people fled

Irish people living in Dubai have been describing the moment a huge fire engulfed a high-rise hotel ahead of a New Year's Eve firework display.

Burning debris could be seen falling from the 300m-tall (1,000ft) Address Downtown Hotel as firefighters tackled the blaze.

They subdued the fire, but part of the building is still smouldering.

The hotel, which is near the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, was evacuated, and 16 people were hurt.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The inferno dominated the Dubai skyline as the city saw in the start of the new year

Authorities in the city in the United Arab Emirates are trying to find out what caused the fire.

Screaming

Irish singer Anita Williams, who was performing at the hotel when the fire began, told the BBC that people left in a "stampede".

"We left everything. There was debris falling down. [The fire] just shot up through the entire hotel," she said.

"Everybody was screaming, everybody was running... I thought: 'This is a film.'"

Flames rapidly engulfed much of the building, which has more than 60 storeys, within 10 minutes.

The Dubai government tweeted (in Arabic) that the fire had started on the 20th floor and has now been mostly been extinguished.

Smouldering

Irishman Neil Halligan was visiting a friend in an apartment when the blaze broke out.

"On this night in particular I was looking at it in shock, stunned silence, that such a tall building in such a built up area could go on fire," he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Smoke continues to billow from the Address Hotel, which is close to the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa

"There's smouldering smoke coming out of the building, it seems to be largely under control.

"There are lots of people looking, taking pictures."

He said firefighters were able to control a lot of the fire from within the building.

"The thick smoke had a plastic smell which indicated that the cladding was on fire."

The fireworks display went ahead as smoke continued to billow from the hotel.

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