Dubai's Torch Tower catches fire for second time in two years

media captionIt is not clear what caused the fire

A large blaze has ripped through one of the largest residential buildings in the world, the Torch Tower in Dubai.

Flames shot up the side of the skyscraper, sending debris tumbling from the 337m (1,106 ft) structure.

One resident told Reuters people were screaming as they woke to the late-night blaze before having to flee.

The authorities said all inside were safely evacuated and the fire brought under control at about 03:40 local time (23:40 GMT).

"Thank God, there were no casualties because of the efforts of all teams on the ground," Dubai Police chief Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri said.

It is not clear what caused the fire in the 79-storey skyscraper, but it is the second blaze to hit the building in two years.

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By daybreak, the building had been left badly damaged and vehicles in the vicinity destroyed.

The government media office said "cooling operations were under way".

The Torch Tower was damaged by an earlier blaze in 2015, which resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of people.

That fire, and other recent blazes in the city, spread quickly because of external cladding, according to fire engineering consultancy Tenable Dubai.

But they did not result in fatalities because the design and construction of the buildings allowed firefighters to battle the blaze and residents to evacuate via smoke-free, fire-free safety zones, the group says.

image source, AFP
image captionThis was the scene overnight
image source, AFP
image captionBy the morning parts of the skyscraper had been hollowed out

The Torch Tower, Dubai

  • The 79-storey skyscraper opened in 2011
  • Was the world's tallest residential building at its opening, but has since been surpassed by six others
  • Is thought to be the 40th tallest building in the world, according to the Skyscraper Centre
  • It has 676 apartments. A two-bedroom flat starts at more than $500,000 (£381,000)
  • Residents have access to an eight-storey garage and a swimming pool overlooking Dubai's waterfront

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