02/09/2010, 00.00
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Smoke from elevator, observation deck closed on tallest building

A “minor incident” on the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa closes ‘At the top’, the tallest observation deck in the world. Just over a month has passed since its spectacular inauguration. For visitors, there was fear but nothing more.
Dubai (AsiaNews) – “I was walking around the observation deck when I heard this really loud noise and what looked like smoke or dust coming out from one of the elevator doors,”  GulfNews quotes a tourist as saying. “One of the elevators had not reached all the way to the 124th floor and I saw some people climbing a ladder from the elevator up on to the observation deck,” he added to describe the “small” incident at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and Dubai’ top tourist attraction.

Standing at more than 800 metres, the skyscraper has a glass-enclosed observation deck called ‘At the top’ even if it is only on the 124th floor (out of 160). Since it opened on 4 January, the Burj has attracted thousands of people prepared to pay 400 dirham (US$ 110) just for the privilege to be at the top.

Building officials said that unexpectedly high traffic and “technical issues with the power supply” are the reason for the mishap and the decision to shut down the observation deck.

Civil defence sources in Dubai confirmed what tourists said even though they refer to the incident as “a minor case” involving one of the elevators, a problem “absolutely normal for a new building”.

In fact, work is still going on the skyscraper, including what that will house the first hotel designed by Giorgio Armani, which is due to open in March.

The first of about 12,000 residential tenants and office workers are supposed to move in this month.

The building has 57 elevators. However, because of its height, none goes directly to the 160th floor. They all stop at an intermediate floor, where people have to change lift.

For those who were on the 124th floor, everything worked out in the end. They got to the ground floor on another elevator, where they were given water and offered refunds or the chance to return for free on another occasion.

‘At the top’ is expected to reopen on 14 February.

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