South Africa checking for citizens after Kenyan airport fire

Masses Nairoi Airport
The burning Jomo Kenyata International Airport. Pic: seniorjournalism.com
The burning Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Pic: seniorjournalism.com

Pretoria – The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) says it is checking to see if any South Africans have been affected by the fire that engulfed the international arrivals section and paralysed daily operations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Details are still unclear but it is understood that several South Africans might be among those evacuated at the airport.

DIRCO said the South African embassy in Nairobi is monitoring developments.

On Wednesday morning, the Kenyan government shut down the country’s main airport after a huge fire broke out.

Interior Ministry Provincial Secretary, Mutea Iringo, said all flights in and out of JKIA, with the exception of emergency landings, have been cancelled until the situation is normalised.

“The fire is massive. We have overwhelming support that it has affected the arrivals. Arrivals and immigration were totally damaged. The airport has been closed down,” Iringo said as fire fighters struggled to contain the flames, which started at around 4:30am local time (0130 GMT).

“We wish to advise anyone planning to travel through JKIA to contact their carriers before leaving the house,” Iringo said.

All flights were now re-routed to Mombasa International and Eldoret Airport.

The immigration section of the busy airport has been cordoned off and the cause of the fire has not been established. No casualties have been reported so far.

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) spokesperson Dominic Ngige said the fire charred part of the international arrivals building and Unit 1, which handles departure procedures.

“The KAA fire and rescue team on the ground is being assisted by G4S and Nairobi Fire Brigade. Passengers have been evacuated to safety,” Ngige said. – SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua