|JKIA workers look at a huge fire at the airport's arrival terminal [Photo: Courtesy @renjiSAN]|
By Cyrus Ombati
NAIROBI, KENYA: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has been closed indefinitely after a huge fire broke out at the arrival terminal.
Arrival and take off of planes have been affected after the fire broke out shortly before 5 am at the arrivals terminal. The fire has since been contained.
There is no departure while flights that were to land at JKIA are being diverted to Moi International Airport, Mombasa and Kisumu International Airport.
The cause of the fire was not immediately established but major services were affected and staff were evacuated.
Officials at the Kenya Airports Authority, which runs the airport, said no injury has been reported.
President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the airport to inspect damage caused by fire.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau said JKIA has been closed indefinitely and efforts were being made to evacuate the airport.
Interior & Coordination of National Government Joseph Ole Lenku said security has been heightened at the airport and efforts were being done to ensure operations resume as soon as possible.
“We will try our best to open the airport as it cannot be close for long but we cannot compromise security,” he said.
He said flights coming into JKIA have been diverted to Mombasa and transiting passengers have been taken to hotels.
Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) head of security Eric Kiraithe has called on the public to avoid the affected area to allow emergency services to do their work.
“The fire is huge and we do not know what caused it. Let the public avoid the area,” said Kiraithe.
Other officials said the fire started from the immigration desk before spreading fast to other areas.
The airport was sealed off as emergency services were scrambled. Ambulances were seen leaving the airport and it is not clear if they were carrying casualties.
Officials at the Kenya Airports Authority, which runs the airport, also confirmed that no injury had been reported.
The fire fighters at the airport were overwhelmed forcing them to seek the help from the private sector and the Nairobi City Council.
Interior Principle Secretary Mutea Iringo said they were monitoring and coordinating the response services.
“We are there and monitoring the situation,” he said.
Another senior security official said there was confusion at the airport but all was being done to put out the fire.
The fire happened a day after thousands of passengers were on Monday night stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after a hitch with fuel supply to planes.
Several flights were cancelled after the pipeline supplying fuel to the airport malfunctioned. It is definitely going to affect operations again.