A fire has ripped through an apartment building in Dubai, killing 16 people and injuring a further nine, authorities have said.
The fire engulfed the five-storey in the Al Murar area of Dubai’s historic Deira neighbourhood, which is located alongside the Dubai Creek and is also home to its gold and spice markets, a major tourist attraction in the city.
A government statement published by the state-linked newspaper The National indicated safety compliance problems in the building could have caused the blaze.
An investigation into how the fire started will now be carried out.
The building is in one of the city’s oldest areas, a densely populated warren of streets and alleys.
It was believed to be shared by multiple individuals, a common practice for labourers who live in the area.
The apartment buildings are often subdivided by makeshift barriers of plywood, drywall or shower curtains, making them a major risk in fires.
On Sunday, char marks could be seen on the apartment building, which also houses a grocery shop and businesses on the ground floor.
Yellow police crime scene tape cordoned off the building, which still had a heavy police presence.
A man who was working nearby when the fire broke out told The Associated Press there had been an explosion as if a gas cylinder had caught fire, followed by thick black smoke.
He said neighbours believed people were asleep inside at the time, which is typical for Muslims fasting during daylight hours during Ramadan.
The Dubai Civil Defence statement, cited by The National, described the fire as starting on the fourth floor.
Dubai Civil Defence “stressed the importance of residential and commercial building owners and residents fully complying with security and safety requirements and guidelines to avoid accidents and protect people’s lives”, the statement reportedly said.