By ISABEL DEBRE Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Fire boats on Thursday dumped cascades of water on a container ship that erupted in a flaming explosion in Dubai’s main port the night before, rocking the shopping center of the Arab Emirates United.
Satellite images captured by Planet Labs Inc. and analyzed by the Associated Press showed intensive efforts to cool the Ocean Trader continued around 12 hours after the explosion at Jebel Ali harbor, as pump boats sprayed water the water area. Port authorities said they were still investigating the cause of the explosion.
The photos also showed a thin sliver of what appeared to be an oil-water mixture spreading from the ship into the gulf. Authorities in Dubai have reported a “leak” from the ship, without further details. They said the ship was carrying containers full of unspecified “flammable materials”.
The government said the explosion caused no casualties. The explosion, which sent a giant fireball skyward on Wednesday night and rocked houses and skyscrapers in several areas of Dubai, was powerful enough to be seen from space via satellite. Panicked residents filmed the eerie orange glow on Dubai’s futuristic skyline, signaling shaky walls and windows more than 15 miles from the port.
Authorities in Dubai also sought to stem the fallout from the shocking explosion, hailing the “record time” it took for firefighters to contain the flames and stressing that crucial port operations had not suffered any disruption.
Dubai’s state-run media office and police did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the incident. Authorities have restricted media access to the area, citing the ongoing investigation. In aerial footage of the aftermath released by the government on Thursday, the stricken vessel can be seen for just seconds before the camera heads to the rest of the vast harbor. The tiny Ocean Trader looks charred, with thick plumes of gray smoke still billowing from its containers and blackened debris littering the terminal.
The UAE’s official newspaper, The National, citing an anonymous official, reported “minor injuries” – mostly dents and scratches – as the crew “fled the ship and the area was evacuated.” The newspaper said the crew rushed to evacuate after spotting smoke rising from one of the containers.
Jebel Ali Port, in the eastern Arabian Peninsula, is the largest port in the Middle East and the busiest port of call for US warships outside of the United States. , serving as an entry point for essential imports.
The explosion occurred around 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, as the temperature in Dubai reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), with heat and humidity along the coast approaching summer peaks.
Associated Press editors Jon Gambrell in Hamilton, Ohio, and Malak Harb in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.
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