Māori living in Dubai talks about skyscraper fire

By Harata Brown

Whakaangi Rongonui was set to have dinner at the Dubai skyline which lit up in flames on the eve of the New Year. The fire - believed to be the third to hit a Dubai skyscraper since 2012 - has renewed fears about the use of highly combustible materials on hundreds of skyscrapers throughout the United Arab Emirates.

In a personal video sent by Miss Rongonui to Te Kāea she says “We are supposed to be waiting to see the fireworks and the only fireworks we see is this."

Rongonui is talking about the massive blaze that torched "The Address Hotel", a 63 storey hotel in Dubai. She was supposed to have dinner with her partner and his work colleagues there.

“The Address Hotel asked us to come and eat there, and watch the fireworks as part of the New Year celebrations, but actually we were lucky we stayed at home,” says Rongonui.

It has been reported that the fire started around 9:30p.m where flames flew up the building and sent thick smoke over the skyline. 

“We were shocked to see that, within 20minutes, the fire had reached the top of the hotel. People were evacuating the building, and you could see them flushing out on the road. It was crazy, “says Rongonui.

Miraculously no one was killed. Authorities say 16 people suffered, most had minor injuries. Only two victims, including a pregnant woman were in hospital overnight.

“We were here at home partying in celebration of the New Year. Our apartment is close to the 'Address Hotel', but lucky we weren't hurt,” says Rongonui.

Although the 'Address Hotel' was the first to torch up the United Arab Emirates city, the annual midnight fireworks show near the world's tallest building still went ahead at midnight according to plan.