An Irish jazz singer has described the terrifying moment a huge fire engulfed the Dubai skyscraper hotel where she performed on New Year’s Eve.
Anita Williams said party celebrations at the five-star, 300m Address hotel turned to terror after the inferno broke out three floors above the outdoor terrace where she and her band were playing.
The Cork jazz and swing artist, who has lived in the city since 2012, said people had gathered at the hotel to ring in 2016.
She said it was the best vantage point to watch the annual fireworks at the nearby Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
However, the Irishwoman said the fire, which broke out about 9.30pm on the 20th floor, spread with terrifying speed and caused a panic-ridden stampede among hundreds of revellers.
Ms Williams described how the debris fell down around them as the blaze took hold.
“One of the musicians said ‘there’s a fire on the balcony’ which was three floors above us. We looked and to be very honest we did not think very much of it [but] within a minute the whole, entire hotel was on fire,” she told the BBC.
“After that... it was just an absolute stampede, it was incredible. I was never so terrified. All the women, all so glamorous, took off their high heels — everybody just ran. We left everything. There was debris falling down. [The fire] just shot up through the entire hotel.
“Everybody was screaming, everybody was running. I thought: ‘this is a film.’
“[The fire] went up in literally minutes.”
The singer said her band fled in “five different directions” as people escaped via different exits including an underpass to the complex next door.
Ms Williams said she and her husband managed to reach safety in a nearby shopping mall. “Honestly I really thought ‘this is it’,” the singer added.
She praised the speed and efficiency of Dubai’s emergency services.
A clearly relieved Ms Williams later told her Facebook followers: “Guys, we all got out in time. Thank God everyone is safe.”
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