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Sun 3 Jan 2016 02:53 PM

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Britons left stranded after leaving passports in hotel fire

Around 80 British nationals were evacuated from The Address hotel, the embassy confirmed

Britons left stranded after leaving passports in hotel fire
(AFP/Getty Images)

Around 80 were evacuated from The Address Downtown Dubai when the hotel tower caught fire on New Year’s Eve, with a number of holidaymakers stranded in the emirate while emergency passports were issued to replace those left in the tower, the British Embassy has confirmed.

A fire engulfed the 63-storey The Address Downtown luxury hotel and residential tower on New Year's Eve. Authorities are still investigating the cause and the hotel is closed indefinitely.

Dubai police said on Thursday the building was evacuated and 14 people were lightly injured. A medic at the scene said more than 60 people were treated for mild smoke inhalation and problems caused by crowding as they fled.

"The Embassy has spoken to more than 80 British nationals who were evacuated from The Address Hotel. We have been working with the local authorities and hotel management and providing consular assistance to those affected, including processing a number of emergency travel documents over the weekend and attending meetings between guests and hotel management," a British Embassy spokesperson in Dubai told Arabian Business.

The embassy did not specify how many British nationals required emergency replacement travel documents. However, one was British holidaymaker Shah Ahad, who was staying in a room on the 47th floor of The Address Downtown Dubai with his family. They were moved to the Atlantis, The Palm hotel, but while they were meant to leave Dubai at the weekend they were stranded in the emirate until new passport documents could be processed to replace those left in the blaze-hit tower.

“My two children were with my sister-in-law. All I could see was smoke coming from the hotel. I tried to contact them on the mobile phone but it wouldn't connect. I was really worried for their safety,” Ahad, who is from the West Midlands in England, told the Daily Mail.

On Saturday, the boss of Emaar Properties, the developer behind The Address Downtown Dubai hotel, said all guests and residents had been relocated across various hotels in the city.

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, said the company had set up a dedicated team from different departments "to ensure that all requirements of our guests are being met immediately".

"We thank our guests for their understanding and patience," he said in a statement.

Alabbar added: “Dubai has once again demonstrated its inherent strength and positivity with the swift, professional, calm and caring response to the fire incident at The Address Downtown Dubai hotel.

“Our immediate priority was ensuring the safety of our guests and colleagues, and we evacuated all of them safely in record time in a most orderly fashion. The authorities also ensured the safety of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to Downtown Dubai.

“We also extend our gratitude to the management teams and staff of various hotels in Dubai, who stepped forward unconditionally to support us in relocating our guests. This is a true testament to how Dubai operates as ‘one team.’"

Alabbar also praised staff at The Address Downtown Dubai and other Emaar hotels for their "commitment and for putting the interests of the guests first and foremost".

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall