DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai authorities are investigating an explosion on a container ship carrying flammable materials, which unleashed a fireball at one of the world’s busiest ports and sent shock waves through the city.
Firefighters rushed to the scene at Jebel Ali Port to tackle the blaze that broke out last night on a large vessel stacked with containers which authorities said had been preparing to dock.
Flames and smoke poured from the ship but authorities said it was doused within 40 minutes and that there were no casualties, with all 14 crew members evacuated in time before the explosion.
“Thank God, everything is safe. But this is a natural accident that happened in one of the containers, which was also carrying some flammable materials. There was no other reason,” Mona Al Marri, director of the Dubai Media Office, tells Al-Arabiya television.
She says there will be an investigation into the cause of the blast. Police vehicles and fire trucks are still parked close to the heavily damaged vessel, with burned containers visible on the waterfront.
Dubai police say three of the 130 containers on the ship held flammable materials.
“Initial reports indicate that… friction, or heat, may have led to the blast,” Dubai police chief Abdullah al-Marri tells Al-Arabiya, adding that there were no radioactive substances or explosives present in the containers.
Jebel Ali port is capable of handling aircraft carriers and was the US Navy’s busiest port of call outside of the United States in 2017, according to the US Congressional Research Service.
Global logistics giant DP World tweets that “operations are running seamlessly” across the port, thanking the local authorities for “their swift response in resolving the fire incident.”