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'Pandemonium' as Britons flee Dubai's New Year's Eve skyscraper inferno

Published 31/12/2015

The blaze engulfed the Address Downtown Hotel, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP)
The blaze engulfed the Address Downtown Hotel, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP)

Britons caught up in a towering blaze on New Year's Eve in Dubai have shared stories of their escape from the burning building.

The five-star, 63-floor Address Downton hotel had nearly 20 stories engulfed in flames hours before the city's midnight fireworks display.

One British man had to carry his disabled mother down from the 15th floor of the building when it caught fire.

Angus Viller said he was preparing some glasses of champagne to watch the New Year fireworks from the balcony when his family noticed the blaze.

He told Sky News: "I got to the fire escape before the actual fire alarm had started going off, by which point there were already people running in the corridors, panicking essentially, and I ended up having to put somebody on my back who was in a wheelchair.

"It was basically absolute pandemonium.

Mr Viller added he had to strap his wheelchair-bound mother to his back as it was the only of getting her out of the building.

"It was the classic thing where you would expect people to let women and children off first, but no, there was people shoving each other down the stairs and climbing over each other," he said.

Nearly an hour after the fire began at 9.30pm local time, some onlookers began to leave while others stood, pressed against crowd barricades, watching the blaze.

Among them was Chris Browne, who was visiting from London with her husband Stephen. They said they hoped no one was injured.

"It's pretty scary stuff," she said.

Standing nearby, Stuart O'Donnell, a British intensive care nurse who works in Dubai, said he was worried for those inside the building as it was in a prime location to watch the fireworks display.

"You feel sad for the people inside... It spread so quickly when it started," he said.

He and others in the crowd wondered what had started the blaze.

"I do feel suspicious of when a fire breaks out on New Year's Eve," he said.

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