Print options

August 07, 2013

Massive Fire Shuts Down Nairobi Airport

by Gabe Joselow

A massive fire caused major damage to the international airport in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, closing down a major transit hub for East Africa. So far, no casualties have been reported. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
 
Tall orange flames burst from the international arrivals wing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport just before dawn.
 
Firefighters from Nairobi’s City Fire Service, as well as the military and private companies, battled the fire for hours before bringing it under control.
 
All flights in and out of the airport were cancelled indefinitely, except for emergency flights.
 
The head of Kenya Airways issued a statement saying all of its passengers are safe and flights are being diverted to Mombasa.
 
While the airport has its own fire brigade, firefighters in Nairobi say they are underequipped. Nairobi city’s fire service has only one working fire engine and about 100 firefighters for a city of about four million.
 
Francis Omolo Liech, secretary-general of the Kenya National Fire Bridgade Association, said he hopes this incident will convince the government to commit more resources to disaster prevention.
 
“You know I have been telling the government to improve the fire services in Kenya, but they seem to be reluctant,” he said.
 
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was on the scene early in the day, as fire engines shot water into the smoldering buildings.
 
Jomo Kenyatta International is among the busiest airports in East Africa, serving more than five million passengers each year.
 
Flights were also canceled on Monday, due to a problem with a fuel line used to supply planes.