Massive Fire Closes Nairobi International Airport, All Flights Rerouted

Melissa Stusinski - Author

Aug. 6 2013, Updated 10:02 p.m. ET

A massive fire forced Kenya’s international airport in Nairobi to close, stranding passengers and rerouting all flights. The fire was located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, east Africa’s busiest airport.

The fire started around 5 am local time in the departure lounge’s immigration section. But it soon spread to the international arrivals area, according to a Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Official.

Reuters reports that the official explained no planes are currently departing or arriving and none will be allowed to, unless it is an emergency.

Along with flights being canceled, the airport was also evacuated, with stranded passengers seen pacing nearby. Several photos have been uploaded to Twitter showing flames and smoke billowing out of one of the main buildings.

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The Nairobi airport fire is likely going to be costly to the country and the region. Given the reported extent of damage so far, it could be a long time before the airport returns to normal after firefighters are able to get the blaze under control.

The BBC’s David Okwembah reported seeing a lot of ambulances and fire engines racing to the scene of the fire. The correspondent added that a junior police officer told them the fire started in the immigration offices. However, the cause hasn’t been determined yet.

The Kenyan airport authority also released a statement acknowledging the fire, saying, “KAA Fire and Rescue Team is on [the] ground being assisted by G4S and Nairobi Fire Brigade.” The statement added that all passengers were evacuated to safety.

The Nairobi airport fire comes just two days after a fuel jet pump failure at the same airport caused massive delays. It even forced some flights to be rerouted to the Mombasa airport, Entebbe International Airport in Mugabe, and the Kigali International Airport in Rwanda. It is likely that flights low on fuel are being asked to land there this time around as well.

[Image via Twitter]


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