International passengers are still stranded while officials come up with alternative plans.

Sections of Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were engulfed in flames earlier today. The fire started around 5 a.m. and continued for hours, as passengers were evacuated to nearby sidewalks outside the airport with their luggage. No casualties have been reported so far.

Much of the international arrivals area was gutted and charred by the time the burning had stopped five hours later. Many incoming flights were diverted to Mombasa's airport 300 miles away.

Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. View Larger Map

By mid-afternoon, the airport had been partially reopened for domestic and cargo flights. International routes are still suspended and airport officials say they will convert another part of JKIA into a temporary terminal.
 

Two days earlier, an airlock in the main pipeline that delivers jet fuel to the airport caused all inbound flights to be diverted to other airfields. The problem had been fixed in time for the following morning's flights.

Video report from the scene ealrier today via the Telegraph

August 7 is the anniversary of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania but Kenya's antiterror police boss, Boniface Mwankiki told the Associated Press earlier today that he wanted to wait for the fire to be extinguished before making any judgement on whether or not the fire was started by terrorists. 

East Africa's busiest airport, JKIA handles 16,000 passengers a day and serves a vital role for the country's flower and tea exports as well as its tourism industry.

Below, images from the airport earlier today via Reuters:

Fire fighters struggle to put out a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis)
Fire fighters walk amid debris from a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis) 
Fire fighters struggle to put out a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis) 
Members of the public stand in front of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, as it goes up in flames, in Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Fire fighters struggle to put out a fire at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis)
Stranded passengers and onlookers gather after a fire disrupted all operations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis)
Stranded passengers and onlookers crowd together after a fire disrupted all operations at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis) 
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (C) is shown the damages from a fire that broke out in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer) 
Police officers stand guard in front of onlookers as Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is engulfed in flames, in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Kenya Airways aircrafts stay grounded after a huge fire left all flights suspended at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, as soldiers patrols the grounds, in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Noor Khamis)
Planes are grounded as smoke rises from the burning Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)
Smoke rises from a distance after a fire broke out at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in Kenya's capital Nairobi August 7, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer) 

About the Author

Mark Byrnes
Mark Byrnes

Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design, history, and photography.

Most Popular

  1. Homeless individuals inside a shelter in Vienna in 2010
    Equity

    How Vienna Solved Homelessness

    What lessons could Seattle draw from their success?

  2. Two New York City subway cars derailed on the A line in Harlem Tuesday, another reminder of the MTA's many problems.
    Transportation

    Overcrowding Is Not the New York Subway's Problem

    Yes, the trains are packed. But don’t blame the victims of the city’s transit meltdown.

  3. Postcards showing the Woodner when it used to be a luxury apartment-hotel in the '50s and '60s, from the collection of John DeFerrari
    Equity

    The Neighborhood Inside a Building

    D.C.’s massive Woodner apartment building has lived many lives—from fancy hotel to one of the last bastions of affordable housing in a gentrifying neighborhood. Now, it’s on the brink of another change.

  4. Life

    Why a City Block Can Be One of the Loneliest Places on Earth

    Feelings of isolation are common in cities. Let’s take a look at how the built environment plays into that.

  5. Members of a tenants' organization in East Harlem gather outside the office of landlord developer Dawnay, Day Group, as lawyers attempt to serve the company with court papers on behalf of tenants, during a press conference in New York. The tenant's group, Movement for Justice in El Barrio, filed suit against Dawnay, Day Group, the London-based investment corporation "for harassing tenants by falsely and illegally charging fees in attempts to push immigrant families from their homes and gentrify the neighborhood," said Chaumtoli Huq, an attorney for the tenants.
    Equity

    Toward Being a Better Gentrifier

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to be a neighbor during a time of rapid community change.