Flights resume at Kenya airport after blaze

Planes from UK and Thailand land at East Africa's largest airport a day after devastating fire, officials say.

    International flights have resumed at East Africa's largest airport in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, a day after a devastating fire at the facility.

    Kenyan officials said on Thursday that one flight had arrived from London at 6:30am at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) while two more flights arrived from Thailand and neighbouring Uganda.

    Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi, said she had spoken to airport officials who confirmed international operations had resumed.

    "The two flights have landed. And officials say that other international flights will be departing soon. The first one will be Kenya Airways to Johannesburg [South Africa]," she said.

    A statement released by Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni indicated that nine flights will take off on Thursday, according to Kenya's Standard newspaper.

    Customs and baggage are being processed through what is normally the domestic terminal because international arrivals were gutted in the four-hour blaze.

    Cargo and domestic flights out of Nairobi resumed early on Wednesday evening, officials said.

    The blaze, which started before Wednesday dawn, sent black smoke out of the main arrivals terminal. There were no casualties but Kenya Airways reported "one member of staff and a passenger had slight smoke inhalation and were safe in hospital for further investigation".

    By 9am local time (0600 GMT), firefighters had succeeded in stemming the raging flames, despite a lack of both water and equipment.

    "Everything is being done to resume normal operations," Manoah Esipisu, a presidential spokesman, said outside the charred arrivals hall of JKIA, where hours earlier flames had lit up the pre-dawn sky.

    Mombasa connections

    International passengers were given priority to fly to Kenya's second city Mombasa to connect to onward flights while Nairobi's domestic terminal was being prepared to handle flights from abroad.

    Up to 16,000 passengers usually transit through JKIA everyday, Esipisu said.

    JKIA is a regional hub for East Africa, with many long-distance international flights landing there to connect to countries across the region.

    Meanwhile, Kenyan investigators have sifted through the debris in search of vital clues for the cause of the inferno, the Standard reported.

    Several police units were deployed to unravel the puzzling cause of the fire that left thousands of passengers stranded and incoming flights diverted to airports in Mombasa and Eldoret, the newspaper said.

    "Investigations by security agencies have commenced and are ongoing. There is no reason to speculate over the causes of the fire," said Michael Kamau, the transport minister.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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