A Gigantic Explosion Just Ripped Through a Dubai Port

A tanker reportedly caught fire, and exploded.
Brad Bergan
The early moments of the explosion.1, 2  

A ship containing oil anchored in Dubai reportedly caught fire and exploded late on Wednesday night, creating a colossal explosion that sent a shockwave through one of the world's largest trading ports, said to United Arab Emirates authorities, according to an initial report from AP News.

The blazing fire saw massive orange flames spread throughout a tanker docked at the critical Jebel Ali Port, which is located on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. Buildings trembled under the power of the shock wave that flashed through the city, shattering windows in neighborhoods up to 15 miles (25 km) away.

Dubai blaze has been contained, said local authorities

No reports of casualties were available after the explosion, which is one of the busiest ports for U.S. warships beyond the shores of North America. Early on Thursday (local time), the government of Dubai made a statement declaring that emergency services had contained the fire, while authorities shared footage on social media of local firefighters dousing the blaze while it burned through huge shipping containers.

Damage to the giant port and surrounding cargo isn't overwhelmingly clear as of writing, and neither is the cause of the spark that sent the tanker's cargo sky-high. For now, port officials are "taking all necessary measures to ensure that the normal movement of vessels continues without any disruption," according to the AP News report. Director-General of the Dubai Media Office Mona al-Marri said to a Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television that this ordeal "could happen anywhere in the world", emphasizing that the communication office of the government worked to rapidly overtake potential rumors spreading regarding the ultimate cause of the fire, which is still under investigation.

Cause of Dubai explosion initially unclear

At roughly 11:45 PM local time, Dubai residents began posting videos on social media depicting the rise of an ominous fireball that lit up the ink-black sky of night. Known through the world as the largest artificial deep-water harbor that receives unspeakable volumes of cargo from the Indian subcontinent, Asia, and Africa, the Jebel Ali Port is operated by DP World, a Dubai-based firm. The port has four massive container terminals capable of berthing the biggest ships in the world, and it serves as a lifeline both to global trade and for Dubai itself, where essential imports enter the famously warm city.

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Described as a "gateway hub" and a "vital link in the global trade network" by DP World, the Jebel Ali Port embodies the spirit of both the eastern and western markets, bringing them together in peace. As of writing, the managing company had not issued an official statement on the colossal explosion, nor did the Pentagon. While it's easy to suspect such a vital link to global trade going up in a blaze might be the result of foul play, it could also have been an accident. But then again, it could be the result of mismanagement, like the now-infamous Beirut explosion of last year. Time will tell what led to the blast.

This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available

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