Middle East

Fire hits 28-floor Abu Dhabi tower under construction

Fire swept through a 28-storey skyscraper under construction in central Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, the latest in a series of at least five blazes to hit tall buildings in the United Arab Emirates over the last 18 months.

Thick black smoke billowed from the top 20 floors of the almost-completed commercial building in the UAE's capital and firefighters, overseen by helicopters, were working to put the blaze out two hours after it started, witnesses said.

Civil defense personnel helped construction workers in the building, as well as guests and staff at an adjacent luxury hotel, evacuate with no serious injuries, the witnesses said.

Early this month, a fire damaged part of a multi-storey building under construction in Dubai. In July a fire broke out in the residential 75-storey Sulafa Tower in Dubai's upscale Marina District, while on New Year's Eve a blaze hit a Dubai hotel and in February 2015 there was a fire at a 79-storey residential tower in the emirate.

In some of those cases, experts said the flames may have been encouraged to spread by exterior cladding, used for decoration or insulation. The UAE revised its building safety code in 2013 to require that cladding on all new buildings over 15 meters tall be fire-resistant, but older buildings are exempt.

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