Huge Explosion Rocks Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port Sparking Large Fire (Updated)

Authorities in Dubai say that the blaze, which was caused by an explosion on a ship anchored in Jebel Ali, has been brought under control.

Blaze-in-Dubai-port
via Twitter/@IranIntl_En

Details are still emerging, but authorities in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates say that a large explosion in a container on a ship anchored in the Port of Jebel Ali, which shook surrounding buildings, subsequently caused a major fire to break out. Officials now say that the blaze has been brought under control and that there are no reported casualties, as of yet, but the full extent of the damage, which appears to be significant, remains unclear.

"We are taking all necessary measures to ensure the normal movement of ships in the port continues without any disruption,” an official statement from the Port of Jebel Ali read. The port is a major commercial hub in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is the biggest of its kind in the Middle East.

via Twitter/@ModernEraNews

A fireball above the port of Jebel Ali, captured by an eyewitness. 

Initial reports had indicated that an oil tanker had exploded or caught fire, which has now been shown not to be the case. Authorities in Dubai have not identified the ship in question, but at least one unconfirmed report suggested that it could be the Comoros-registered container vessel Ocean Trader.

Whatever the cause of the incident, various unverified videos show a huge ball of orange flame rising over the port, while eyewitness accounts report that the explosion could be heard, and felt, from several miles around.

It is also worth noting that another vessel now thought to be in the same port, the Liberia-flagged CSAV Tyndall, had a fire break out last Saturday while it was headed to Jebel Ali. While the cause of that fire has not been established, Israeli officials reportedly blamed Iran for the incident. That would not be the first time that Tehran has been linked with an attack on a commercial vessel in the region, where there have been apparent tit-for-tat operations by both Iran and Israel targeting shipping.

Regardless, so far there is no evidence either way at present that this was anything but an accident, and the identity of the vessel on which the fire broke out is yet to be confirmed.

We will continue to update this developing story as more details become available.

UPDATE: 7/8/2021 —

Authorities in Dubai have confirmed that the Comoros-flagged container vessel Ocean Trader was the ship at the center of this incident. The fire, as well as the explosion that caused it, was a "normal accident, General Mona Al Marri, head of the Dubai Media Office had told Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya television.

"Our priority now is to ensure that the accident will not impact the marine environment," Suhail al-Mazrouei, the UAE's Minister for Energy and Infrastructure, said in a statement. He added that normal operations had otherwise resumed at Jebel Ali. 

The exact cause of the explosion remains unclear, but General Al Marri said that the container that blew up had held unspecified flammable materials. Al Arabiya had reported that police in Dubai had suggested that "friction or high temperatures" might have contributed to the accident.

"Casualties were avoided also due to the quick action of Jebel Ali Port’s officials who ordered an evacuation of the vessel and the immediate area when a leakage and smoke was seen," a Tweet from the Dubai Media Office read. "Jebel Ali Port authorities are continuing an extensive investigation on the cause of the fire and its circumstances."

Contact the author: thomas@thedrive.com