The fire had broken out early in the morning in terminal 1 of jomo kenyatta international airport for reasons that are still unclear and had spread rapidly.
According to the authorities, there were no victims. The airport is considered one of the largest and most important in africa.
"At first there was just a bit of smoke, but after ten minutes everything was burning," said airport employee dennis kariuki. It took firefighters and emergency personnel several hours to bring the sea of flames under control.
The fire broke out in the international arrivals terminal, transport minister michael kamau said. "We tried to prevent the flames from spreading to the departure terminal, which is separated from the arrivals only by a small bridge," he said. Parts of the roof in the arrival hall collapsed, making it difficult to remove the fire. The front of the building was completely blackened by smoke, eyewitnesses reported. "The fire was huge. There were flames everywhere, it was chaos," reported kevin maura from pfort.
The airport was closed indefinitely. As it is the vacation season in europe, the accident is considered a serious blow to the country. Nairobi is among other things an important transit airport. Here traditionally land many tourists who want to go on safari in kenya or other east african countries or spend vacations on the indian ocean. About six million passengers take off and land in nairobi every year.
German vacationers, however, mostly flew directly to the coastal city of mombasa, confirmed sibylle zeuch of the german travel association (DRV). Currently, however, many tourists came to the country, among other things, because of the rough animal migrations in the nature reserve masai mara southwest of nairobi.
Numerous flights were canceled on wednesday, others diverted to the kenyan airports of eldoret and mombasa or to tanzania and uganda. Passengers were advised to check with their airlines. Cargo and domestic flights resumed wednesday afternoon. International flights could possibly be dispatched from another building as early as thursday, transport minister kamau explained.
President uhuru kenyatta visited the scene of the accident just hours after the fire broke out. The head of state was "dismayed" at the damage, it said in a statement.
The government announced the formation of a committee headed by the ministry of transport and infrastructure to ensure the rapid reopening of the airport. In addition, investigations were initiated into the cause of the accident. "I call on the people to remain calm," said a police spokesman. "The background of the fire is already being investigated."
Exactly 15 years ago – on 7. August 1998 – 220 people were killed in attacks on the U.S. Embassies in nairobi and dar es salaam in tanzania.