Security beefed up after JKIA fire
07 August 2013, 13:23
Nairobi - The government has beefed up security to ensure safety of passengers and citizens after a huge fire engulfed JKIA, which is the country's main airport, and paralyzed its daily operations.
The fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), East Africa's busiest transport hub, broke out at around 04:30 a.m. local time in the immigration section of the departure lounge and spread to the international arrivals area, officials said.
The airport has since been closed. The cause of the fire is still unknown and no casualties have been reported so far.
Interior Security Ministry Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku assured passengers of increased security, saying frantic efforts are being made to contain the fire.
"I wish to assure passengers and the nation that security has been heightened both on the ground and in the air to keep everybody secure as efforts are being made to evacuate the entire airport," Lenku told journalists at the airport.
He said the Kenyan authorities will take good care of the passengers, adding that the government temporarily closed the airport as safety prioritizes at the moment.
"We recognize the key role the airport plays in our economy. We don't have any intention of keeping the airport closed for a long time," Lenku said.
His remarks came after emergency services from the military, fire brigade, Nairobi County and Kenya Red Cross are battling the fire, which razed down parts of the roof of terminal 1 at the airport.
Officials at the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), which runs the airport, confirmed that no injury has been reported.
"We confirm reports of a fire at JKIA affecting part of International Arrivals building and Unit 1 departures," KAA spokesman Dominic Ngige said.
He added that passengers had been evacuated to safety.
Michael Kamau, cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, said investigations into possible cause of the inferno will begin immediately once the fire is contained.
"The focus now is on containing the fire which is so severe. We want to make sure that the fire is completely extinguished before we make assessment and then launch investigations," Kamau told journalists at the airport.
The fire comes two days after a hitch with fuel supply to planes forced hundreds of passengers to cancel their flights at JKIA.
Kenya Pipeline Company said Monday that the pipeline supplying fuel to the airport malfunctioned but efforts were made to restore the normal supply after six hours.
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