>> a huge fire rips through a hotel in dubai during the new year celebrations. hello, i'm maryam nemazee. you're watching al jazeera live from london. also coming up. [ gunfire ] rebels over government forces take over a key town in syria. russian expands its missile program after new sanctions with the united states.
and celebrations and the security fears as the world welcomes in 2016. >> a massive fire has broken out at a highrise hotel in downtown dubai. the blaze is reported to have started outside the 20th floor of the five-star address hotel. authorities say four squads of firefighters are working to control the fire and say there have been no reported injuries. it is near the area where people were gathering for a new year's eve fireworks display where the government said will go ahead as planned. we've been witnessing the fire from the balcony. what have you been seeing? what can you tell us about what is happening around you? >> hi, yes, we're just having a
reasonbly quiet evening. we got a call from our friend asking if we were able to see the fire. we went out on the balcony, and it was seriously going up, burning fast. >> and can you give us an idea roughly how close you are. you're obviously in a place. you're in a hotel. can you tellurous you're at. >> we actually live in dubai. we're at our friend's apartment, which is 150 meters from the address hotel. there have been a couple of explosions recently or a couple of bangs, i should say, but the fire has been going to be an hour now. >> can i ask you, you say you heard a couple of bangs. can you give us an idea roughly of what it sounded like?
could it have been fireworks or could it have been related to the fire itself? >> no, i think it's the fire i think it's probably dewey and things going off. the fire was pretty furious. it has taken out a whole side of the building, and firefighters got there pretty fast. >> the suspects we've been seeing show one whole side of the skyscraper essentially engulfed in flames. you say you've been seeing fire engines at the scene. can you tell me roughly how many you've been seeing there? >> well, it's hard to tell. i mean, we--we can't see the ground come completely, the
buildings is completely surrounded by fire trucks. the wind has flown blown the fire in one direction. it is great that it has not wrapped around the building, they've been able to condense it on one side. but we're looking at it now. there are still people running out of the building, and being attentive to the forces. >> i was just going to ask you if you can see many people around the building itself. of course, authorities say that they're working very hard to insure everyone is evacuated. they want to empty this building as soon as possible. you say that you're 150 meters away researchly. can you tell us how many people you've seen? are you able to distinguish between adults and children? >> look, i can't see any
children. it's mostly paramedics or ambulances staff and fire trucks and police. they're really surrounding the area. and they're being pretty good in getting absolutely all the tourists and residence who have come here to the fireworks show out of the area. pushed them back. i'm actually looking now, and there is a group surveying the damage 25 feet up. i think that's the way they're inspecting what is going on with the building, with the drone. >> can you give us an idea of the area itself? the address hotel has been around for a couple of years, and actually it's not far from the dubai mall, which is a place tha that is very popular with residents in dubai like yourself and tourists.
do you go there often? >> oh, definitely. it's a massive tourist destination. there are a lot of residents who live around it. there ar--it is in the heart of the city. it is a great place to live and probably one of the most demanding places to live. it's a very busy bustling area. it's the heart of the activity, and it took my husband and i a good hour to get here from the marina which is just a few minutes away. >> i was just going to say, the best of times the traffic in dubai can be pretty difficult. you have lived in dubai for a few years now, and new year's eve is a big event on
the calendar, and you have a lot of tourists coming in to bring in the new year as well. >> yes, definitely. the hotel, th on new year's they up their peak and everyone is here to see the fireworks. we've got a lot of people to look after this event. >> there will be a lot of people there going to see in the new year, and of course, this is the world's tallest building. it's a place that tracks a great number of tourists. the landmark of dubai itself, that's not far from you, is it? >> well, no, currently where i'm at, we're five minutes out, so
we assume that the firefighters have a better look at the building, but currently i'm looking out, and there are a lot of helicopters circling and a lot of activity going on. >> we're just looking at pictures right now, lily, a shot of the address hotel itself. the fire engulfing one whole side of the hotel, of course. this is ahead of new year celebrations. we know that there are firefighters at the scene perhaps four brigades or so working to try to tackle the fire to distinguish it. we understand that it started on the 20th floor on the outside of the tower, and we've been getting tweets coming in from the dubai media office. they have confirmed that the fire is at the downtown address hotel. they say it originated from
outside of the 20th floor of the hotel. they say that it's not spread inside, but that particular tweet was sent out about 30 minutes ago. this fire has now been burning for over an hour. so we're not sure if there has been--perhaps a change in terms of how far the fire has spread. but we know that four squads of firefighters are working to patrol that fire. this according to the dubai media office. and interestingly, lily, they said that new year celebrations in dubai will continue as planned. does that come as a bit of a surprise to you? >> yes, definitely. i'm kind of shocked to hear that news myself. i don't--it is very murky here. it has evacuated the area. i don't see how in the next hour
they would be to go through that. i'm just looking at it now. there is a building next door that has caught on fire. so i think they're struggling to keep the surrounding buildings from going up in flames. so yeah, the fact that they'll continue with fireworks is a big surprise for me. >> and you say that the building next door appears to have caught on fire has been effected by the flames at the address hotel. do you have any idea, lily, what type of building that is? is it commercial? is it residential? is it the hotel? is it a business of some sort? >> i think it's a residential or maybe--there is still debris coming down from the building, so it's landing on the ceilings
of surrounding buildings. there are spot fires going on everywhere. [ disconnection ] >> it appears that we lost lily. she was just speaking to us some 150 meters on the balcony from the balcony where she lives from the address hotel in dubai. we're looking at pictures coming to us right now the fire has completely engulfed a whole one side of this building. and actually lily was just telling us she has witnessed the buildings next door catch fire. it appears that the firefighters on the scene are struggling to contain the fire, and struggling to ensure that it doesn't spread. she was also telling us that she has seen fire trucks from the
scene and people still emerging from the building. we have a spokesperson who represents the address hotel's report earlier saying they were evacuating the building the respect saying that she could not be sure that everyone inside emerged from the building. and people suggesting to us that there are people coming outside from the building. we had a couple of tweets in the dubai media office, this is in downtown dubai. it's just next to the dubai mall, which is very popular place. a big aquarium inside, lots of different shots. a place that would be popular with residents, expats that live in dubai, and tourists. the world's largest building, a key landmark in dubai not very
far from the address hotel, and actually the dubai media office is saying that a new year celebration, the fireworks display will continue as planned, and that has been some surprise in terms of reaction to that statement that everything will continue as plan given the severity of what we're seeing right here, a fire erupting at the address hotel ahead of the new year celebrations. so we'll continue to see what is happening there and bring you the latest as it comes in to us. we know that roughly four firefighting team trying to get the situation under control and stop the spread of that fire. well now, a battle is underway in syria that could have a big impact on the course of the country's war. government forces backed by russian fighter jets have launched a major campaign to recapture a key city that contains roots to the south of
the capital of damascus. rebel factions are fighting back hashem ahelbarra reports. >> these fighters have come to the defensive. they're launching an attack to fight government troops in an opposition stronghold in southern syria. they say that many troops were forced to retreat. the army backed by russian fighter jets say that the fight is almost over, and that the city will soon be under its control. >> the russian arrival is like game changer. it's added more military assets more air bauer power, when they said we don't have enough personnel in order to fight.
accordingly the russians are here trying to limit the spill-over, the spill-back of the regime. >> the birthplace of syria's up rising. while the capital of the province is still under government control, the rebels have captured most of the towns. it is crucial for both sides. if captured by government forces the rebels will have to pull out. it's fall is also going to be bad news for rebel factions based on the outskirts of damascus. it is also a vital supply route for groups based there. there are many armed groups operating there. mainly al nusra front, free syrian army brigades and separatist fighters, but the opposition rebels have been weakened by divisions and internal fighting. >> the opposition has called on
the rebels to set their differences aside and a defeat at this moment could undermine the chances of the rebels pushing for more concessions from the government in the upcoming talks being held in geneva. hashem ahelbarra in southern turkey. >> the iranian president has ordered an expansion of the missiles development program. it is seen as a direct response to a report that the united states is planning a new round of sanctions of iran over previous missile tests. iran said it has a right to develop missiles as long as it does not carry nuclear war heads. we have more tensions between the u.s. and iran over its missile program. it is firing of missiles can you tell us why this has not been
resolved? a bit of context around he's tensions? >> well, in the past year most recently in mid-october, the iranians test fired a ballistic missile. according to the united states and other countries that's a violation of international prohibitions on iran from testing it's ballistic missiles. so the u.s. is looking at implementing a new round of unilateral sanctions against the iranian government where persons who have been supporting this work. now the wall street journal said that people and businesses in three countries, hong kong, abu dhabi, and the u.a.e. and in iran would be facing these sanctions. now even though the u.s. official would not confirm overnight to al jazeera that those particular people in those particular locations are, in fact, going to be the target of the sanctions, the u.s. official did tell al jazeera that
especially in light of the mid-october launch the u.s. is looking for ways to holding iran accountable for its behavior. >> the u.s. is not happy about iran test firing this missiles. the guess the white house is under some pressure from congress to seem to be responding to this. >> that's right. in fact, right after the reports of the october missile launch came out there was a lot of pressure, particularly coming from the u.s. congress for the u.s. to respond as quickly as possible. however, as we all know, trying to decide whether to impose sanctions and against whom to impose sanctions takes some time and involves not just the u.s. treasury department and the white house, it also involves the state department, the intelligence community, as well as consultations with the u.s. allies. now, even though u.s. officials are strongly suggesting that these sanctions are coming,
earlier this afternoon i was told by a senior state department officials that the administration simply was not going to respond to every complaint or every statement uttered by tehran, that it does have the right to maintain the u.s. national security interests, and if it does mean going ahead with sanctions, then that may well be the case. however, we are being very careful to say that this has nothing to do--excuse me--with the agreement to curtail iran's nuclear weapons program. alleged nuclear weapons program, i should say. they're stressing this is a separate national security concern, and the u.s. has a right to pursue it. we'll just have to see what exactly does develop in the coming days, whether the iranian government actually goes made, maryam with this call to expand its ballistic missiles inventory. >> the time of all this is certainly interesting roslind
after the blaze at the address hotel, which is near the world's tallest building. the battle for the key syrian town has entered it's second day. the government forces in a major offensive. president rouhani has ordered an expansion of its government missile promise against reported new sanctions against tehran. a drive by shoulding in yemen city of aden. in nearby taiz one of the last working hospitals say it came under attack on wednesday while we have more on the challenges facing medical staff working in a war zone. >> at the closing of the year no
let up in the fighting in yemen. houthi rebels fired at hospital killing a child. hospitals are on the front line in the battle between the rebels and the internationally recognized government of abd rabbuh mansur hadi. medical staff are struggling to cope. at the hospital in taiz they plead for more oxygen supplies. without them medical care will suffocate. we are protesting today because we're no longer able to say they're patients. they arrive injured but we cannot help them. there is no oxygen or surgery equipment. >> people with family and friends being treated in the hospital are having to bring in their own oxygen bottles. >> i have to get it from outside the hospital because none are available here. >> united nations says more than 21 million yemenis need humanitarian aid. that's roughly 80% of the population, but houthi fetterers not allowing that aid through.
some of the aid is being provided by saudi arabia, which is leading the coalition against the rebels. which has left both sides injured in campaigns. >> there are attacks against humanitarian raid, and we're calling on people that they're violating international law. >> the patients out of this hospital are unlikely to care where the aid comes from, just as long as it comes. rob matheson, al jazeera. >> moving to iraq where officials say the battle to retake ramadi were isil has destroyed 80% of the city. local government is telling residents it is not safe to return immediately. the army claims control of central ramadi on sunday.
isil is still fighting in other districts. many people remain trapped but thousands have escaped and are living in camps nearby. a french journalist has been expelled from china for questioning communist party policy. the first foreign journalist forced to leave china since 2012 when al jazeera's own correspondent melissa chan was expelled. we have reports from beijing. >> she's used to deadlines and this was one she couldn't miss. china's government had told her to leave the country by midnight on december 31st after a decision not to renew her media credentials. >> there is something really ridiculous, crazy, silly. i just cannot understand it. >> the authorities had demanded she apologize for an article that it said supported terrorism.
the report had suggested china had ulterior motives for declaring solidarity with france after november's attacks in paris. the real reason she implied was to try to win support for the chinese government's own policies in the troubled western province. the area is home to mostly muslim ethnic minority known as uyghurs. the government has fought against an independent state. she said she has nothing to be sorry about. >> i didn't write that i supported terrorism. that would have been suicide. >> her home is just around the corner from china's foreign ministry, where an official said that the french journalist article had incited the outrage of the chinese people. >> china protects the lawful rights and interests of
permanent offices of found new agencies and foreign journalists who report on fine. fine--on china. but we'll never support terrorism. >> in 2012 al jazeera correspondent melissa chan was also asked to leave the country. >> this guy was facing abuse earlier. >> she has been subjected to death threats and abuse online. one government-controlled newspaper celebrated her expulsion with a poll demonstrating support of the decision. all part of the campaign that she believes was officially sanctioned. >> my god, it was incredible. incredibly sexual and dirty, and even facebook did censorship. >> she left china just as a new
anti-terrorism law came into effect. the government says that the legislation is similar to measures adapted by many western countries and is not designed to target any ethnic minority. adrian brown, al jazeera, beijing. >> well, cities around the world are on high security alert as they usher in 2016. fireworks displays have been canceled in french areas, but so far celebrations have overshado overshadowed security fears. >> celebrating the theme sydney hosted two fireworks display launching a total of seven tons of fireworks. it was the biggest ever disapply by the city and included 25,000 shooting mets and pyrotechnique effects. in taipei's display where nature is the future.
and hong kong's victoria's harbor with lights ushering i in 2016. china will be celebrating the new year again celebrating the year of the monkey. more of everything we're covering right here. the address, www.aljazeera.com. >> three locations, three different stories about the environment. one message. >> this year is blowing our minds. >> storms generated by a powerful weather system. >> these urchins are in trouble right now, why is that? >> our oceans getting warmer and more toxic. land frozen for years now melting. what is happening around the planet and what can science do abou