Abu Dhabi gas blast raises jitters after attacks

AFP , Wednesday 9 Feb 2022

A gas explosion in downtown Abu Dhabi prompted a warning of a possible attack early on Wednesday.

Abu Dhabi, UAE
This file photo taken on January 24, 2022 shows seagulls flying across Abu Dhabi s seaside promenade in the Emirati capital on January 24, 2022. AFP

The emergency teams in the United Arab Emirates capital "put out a fire caused by a gas cylinder explosion", the official WAM news agency said.

"The teams managed to control the situation after extinguishing the fire and safely vacating the residents," it said.

The report also urged the public to "follow the news from the UAE's official authorities and to avoid spreading rumours and false information".

Unverified footage posted on social media showed an explosion at the top of a building and emergency services arriving in the busy street below as bystanders watched.

The US embassy in Abu Dhabi had warned after the blast that "there are reports of a possible missile or drone strike having occurred" over the city.

In a later statement, it cited the Emirati authorities' notification that the blast was a gas cylinder explosion, saying it had an obligation to inform US citizens of potential threats.

"Against the backdrop of recent security incidents, reports of audible and visible explosions in Abu Dhabi early this morning prompted the embassy to issue a security alert to American citizens and personnel.

"Subsequently, the Abu Dhabi Civil Defence Authority issued a public notification widely across all media channels confirming that the incident was the result of a gas cylinder explosion.

"The embassy extends its gratitude to the Abu Dhabi emergency responders who contained the incident quickly and assured the safety of the city's residents."

The gas explosion followed a victory by Brazil's Palmeiras, who are accompanied by many of their fans, in the Club World Cup football tournament taking place in Abu Dhabi this week.

The UAE has been on alert since a drone and missile attack killed three oil workers in Abu Dhabi on January 17.

Authorities have since thwarted three similar attacks.

The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen's civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands directly or indirectly and displaced millions, sparking a humanitarian catastrophe.

The January 17 attack was the first deadly assault on the UAE claimed by the Huthis, opening a new phase in the seven-year war. 

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