While friends and family rang in New Year’s Eve with confetti and a round of drinks, Padma Rajagopal, who was staying at the Address Hotel in Dubai Mall, started the year by watching flames shoot out of the 63-storey building from across her bedroom window.
The Dubai Mall, which houses numerous restaurants and high-end designer stores, is nearby the Address Downtown Dubai Hotel where the fire broke out on December 31 due to a kerosene leak.
Thousands of revelers, who had come to catch the fireworks at Burj Khalifa, were soon scurrying to safety. And that included businesswoman Padma Rajagopal from Hyderabad and her family.
“There were 28 of us and we had dinner reservations at Society House that is outside the mall and right across The Address, which caught fire. The place has the perfect view of the fireworks, due to which the entire area was swarming with revelers before the untoward incident took place,” says Padma who, along with 27 other members from the family, went to Dubai to celebrate.
A traumatised Padma admits that nobody in her group was hurt, only shaken.
“My 76-year-old mother-in-law was travelling with us and so were children aged between four to six years old. All of us were panicking, but what was commendable was the order with which the situation was taken in control by the rescue officers,” says Padma, adding, “There was no stampede, and within an hour everybody was taken to safety. There were hundreds of fire engines, but the fire took place on the 20th floor and they could not reach that high; so they were ensuring the flames did not spread to other hotels, which included ours. The fireworks did take place, but lasted only for a few minutes as compared to its tradition of close to an hour.”
While people were later allowed to go back to their rooms, Padma recalls how terrifying it was to watch the building across burn throughout the night.
“It continued to burn throughout the night. The hotel was just a kilometer from the site, so we had the entire view of the activities taking place at the area. Even though this is not an ideal way to spend New Year’s, I am grateful that my family is safe,” says Padma, who safely reached Hyderabad on Monday morning.
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