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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

big fire devastates Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta International Airport

The airport opened in May 1958 by the last colonial governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring. Evelyn Baring, is in news for wrong reasons……….  BBC and other agencies report that a massive fire engulfed the arrivals hall at Kenya’s main international airport early on Wednesday, forcing East Africa’s largest airport to close and the rerouting of all inbound flights.

Reports suggest that dark black smoke that billowed skyward was visible across much of Nairobi as emergency teams battled the blaze. Stranded passengers stood on sidewalks outside the airport with their luggage in hand. The Kenya Airports Authority said the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has been closed until further notice so that emergency teams can battle the fire. The fire is now said to have been contained but there have been reports that it took emergency services a long time to respond. There have been no reports of any casualties and the cause of the fire is not clear.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the regional hub for East Africa, with many long-distance flights landing there to connect to countries across the region. The airport is the main gateway for European tourists - and it is now the height of the tourist season - and is also crucial for the country's key flower export industry, so the fire could have a huge economic impact, says the BBC's  correspondent at the scene. The cabinet secretary for transport, Michael Kamau, earlier described the fire as "very severe", and although it is contained firefighters are still battling the flames.

The first fire engines did not arrive for one to two hours after the fire broke out, witnesses told BBC correspondent - by which time the blaze was ravaging the arrivals hall. Kenya's police and fire units are poorly resourced and the state response was supplemented by the Red Cross and private security firms including - airport authorities said - the British multinational company G4S. Some witnesses also said traffic jams had prevented emergency vehicles getting through. The government also admitted that firefighters had run "dangerously low on water" and water tankers had had to be sent to bolster supplies.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, was formerly known as Embakasi Airport and Nairobi International Airport. The  airport is named after the first Kenyan prime minister and president, Jomo Kenyatta. The airport is located in Embakasi, a suburb to the southeast of Nairobi. The airport is served by a single Runway 06/24.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

News and photo courtesy : BBC

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