Fire ravages Duesseldorf refugee centre in Germany

image source, EPA
image captionSmoke drifted close to the flight path but there were no reports of cancellations at Duesseldorf airport

A large fire has broken out at a convention centre in the western German city of Duesseldorf.

The centre acts as an accommodation hub for refugees waiting to be sent elsewhere in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Everyone inside hall 18, where 180 refugees were staying, was brought to safety, according to reports.

As the fire raged, a thick, black plume of smoke could be seen across Duesseldorf.

The smoke drifted close to the flight path from Duesseldorf airport.

The fire department advised those in the north of the city to keep windows and doors shut, reported RP Online (in German). Some 70 firefighters were at the scene.

'Caused a stir'

image source, Ben Smith
image captionThe thick plume of smoke was visible from Duesseldorf airport, where witness Ben Smith was waiting for a flight

Ben Smith, a former BBC reporter, was waiting for a flight when he saw smoke rising up on the other side of the airport.

"The smoke was thick and pretty quickly a column was reaching up and flames started to appear," he said.

"It caused a bit of a stir among passengers but it became clear pretty quickly that it wasn't a plane or an airport building.

"Flights were continuing to land as all this was going on. The fire wasn't that far from the runway but the smoke wasn't blowing [in the direction of the airport]."

image source, EPA
image captionFirefighters tried to extinguish the flames at Hall 18, part of the Duesseldorf convention centre
image source, AP
image captionAn estimated 70 firefighters were at the scene

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