‘One hour, then that’s it’: Dubai fire survivor hangs from balcony

January 1, 2016 9:53 am
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Flames engulf the Address Downtown hotel, near the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, on December 31, 2015/AFP
Flames engulf the Address Downtown hotel, near the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, on December 31, 2015/AFP

, DUBAI, Jan 1 – Grasping the edge of a balcony 48 stories from the ground, just metres away from a raging fire, the photographer thought he may not live to see 2016.

“One hour, then that’s it, I’m dead,” he thought as he stood on the tiny sill of a balcony in Dubai’s luxury The Address Downtown hotel, attached by a rope to a massive window-cleaning platform.

Not long before, he had entered the balcony with a friend to take photographs of the nearby New Year’s Eve fireworks display for his newspaper.

But the night suddenly changed when a huge fire erupted in the hotel below them, engulfing several floors of the huge building in the heart of the skyscraper city.

“There’s a fire,” his friend shouted, rushing towards the nearest exit, before the photographer looked out and saw “smoke coming towards the balcony”.

READ: Huge fire erupts at Dubai hotel, site of New Year celebrations

Afraid that he would die from suffocation, and unable to see how he could escape, the photographer decided there was only one thing for it: to tie a rope from himself to a window-cleaning platform and hang off the balcony.

He rolled out some 30 metres (100 feet) of a heavy-duty cable from a nearby machine used by workers to clean the tower’s windows, attached it to his belt and photographing equipment and stepped off the edge.

The rope “was my saviour”, he told AFP, asking not to be named and explaining that the fire was less than 10 metres away from him at that point.

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