Blaze Shuts Down Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Inbound Flights Diverted

 @Keemohan
on August 07 2013 3:15 AM
jomo kenyatta
Passengers check-in at the British airways desk at Jomo Kenyatta international airport in Nairobi, May 15, 2003. Reuters

A fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi has disrupted operations, and inbound flights are being redirected to other airports.

According to reports, the airport has been shut down as firefighters tackle the blaze in the arrival and immigration areas. The cause of the fire, which broke out at around 5 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EDT) according to Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, is not immediately known.

No casualties have been reported so far.

Cabinet Transport Secretary Michael Kamau said that the airport will be closed indefinitely, and Sky News reported that only emergency landings are now being allowed at the airport, which is a major transport hub in eastern Africa.

"The fire started at a very central part of the airport and this made access difficult,” Kamau told Sky News. “But we have closed the airport indefinitely as we try to contain the fire."

Smoke from the fire could be seen from miles away, and a number of passengers have been stranded due to the fire, multiple reports said.

“It was huge, the smoke billowing, and it didn't seem to be stopping," Barry Fisher, a passenger who was scheduled to fly to Ethiopia but had to be turned away, told Sky News.

Martyn Collbeck, another passenger, said he heard multiple explosions. "When I arrived there were one or two fire engines parked outside the international arrivals, it spread very fast," Collbeck told Sky News. "There were a couple of explosions which I think were a couple of gas canisters.”

While authorities are working toward avoiding a crisis, a BBC report said that fire engines are low on water, and tankers were being used to ferry water to the airport.

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