Gas cylinder explosion in tense Abu Dhabi raises alarm

US Embassy in UAE initially warned citizens of "possible missile or drone strike."

The spectacular Abu Dhabi skyline (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
The spectacular Abu Dhabi skyline
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)

An explosion blamed on a faulty gas cylinder in a building in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi raised alarm on Wednesday, with the US embassy initially saying it suspected a possible missile strike.

The UAE, which prizes its reputation as a safe business and tourism hub, has been on edge in recent weeks after several missile and drone strikes blamed on the Houthi movement in Yemen.

Abu Dhabi civil defense said it received a report of a fire at 12:09 a.m. (2009 GMT) caused by a gas cylinder explosion in a building in a central residential area. It said there were no casualties, and asked the public to follow only official news sources and avoid spreading rumours.

"Specialized teams extinguished the fire, evacuated the building as a precaution and controlled the situation," the civil defense authority said in a statement on state media.

Earlier, the US embassy had issued a warning of "reports of a possible missile or drone strike." A US embassy spokesperson later told Reuters the warning was issued against the backdrop of recent security incidents, and thanked Abu Dhabi's emergency workers for containing the fire quickly.

A drone aircraft is put on display at an exhibition at an unidentified location in Yemen in this undated handout photo released by the Houthi Media Office, July 9, 2019. (credit: HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)A drone aircraft is put on display at an exhibition at an unidentified location in Yemen in this undated handout photo released by the Houthi Media Office, July 9, 2019. (credit: HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Yemen's Houthis issued no claim for an attack on Wednesday. The movement, battling a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, has claimed three attacks on the UAE since the start of this year, one killing three people. A fourth attack, involving drones that the UAE said were intercepted, was claimed by a separate, little-known group.