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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Huge fire forces Nairobi airport shutdown

Huge forces Nairofirebi airport shutdown 'Massive' fire has gutted parts of airport in the Kenyan capital, forcing all flights to be suspended, officials say.
A "massive" fire has broken out at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International airport, forcing one of East Africa's largest transport hubs to shut down, officials say. "There is a serious fire at JKIA [airport], but we are doing everything possible to avert a crisis," Mutea Iringo, a senior official at Kenya's interior and national coordination ministry, said on Wednesday. "Apart from emergency landings, all flights into and out of JKIA have been cancelled, [the] airport has been shut down," added the official. The fire at east Africa's busiest airport started at around 5:00am local time (02:00 GMT) in the immigration section of the departure lounge and spread to the international arrivals area, a Kenya Civil Aviation Authority official said on condition of anonymity. Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre, in an update given at 05:00GMT, said that while the blaze had been brought under control in the international departures areas, fire was still burning at the arrivals terminal. All roads around the airport had been closed except to emergency traffic, it added. "This is a major crisis," said senior transport ministry official Michael Kamau. There were no initial reports of casualties, but Iringo said the fire was "massive", adding that the arrivals and immigration sections were "totally damaged". Firefighters were tackling the blaze, while flights were being diverted to other airports, the interior ministry said in a statement. Images on Kenyan media showed flames rising high in the sky and billowing clouds of black smoke out of the main arrivals and departures terminal, with dozens of police and fire trucks at the scene. The airport serves as a regional hub for east Africa, with many long-distance international flights landing there to connect to countries across the region. Wednesday's fire comes less than 48 hours after a fuel jet pump failure caused huge delays at the airport, forcing some flights to be rerouted to the airport in the coastal town of Mombasa, Entebbe International Airport in Uganda and Kigali International Airport in Rwanda.

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