DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping centers and a symbol of Dubai’s grandeur, was partly closed on Thursday after an aquarium containing thousands of fish and sea animals started leaking, police and witnesses said.
Footage posted on the Internet showed water gushing from the aquarium as passers-by scrambled to get out of the way.
“There was a small problem, a simple crack, and the water leaked,” a police official said, declining to be named.
A Reuters witness said the mall had been partly evacuated and dozens of emergency vehicles were outside. Six divers entered the tank and appeared to be coordinating with workers outside the glass. Workers mopped up water from the floor.
“A leakage was noticed at one of the panel joints of the Dubai Aquarium at The Dubai Mall and was immediately fixed by the aquarium’s maintenance team,” said a spokeswoman for Emaar Properties, which operates the mall.
“The leakage did not impact the aquarium environment or the safety of the aquatic animals,” she added in a statement.
Emaar’s chairman Mohammed Alabbar had earlier been quoted as denying there was a leak in the aquarium, saying there was a “technical fault in the operating device”, according to a statement carried on the official news agency WAM.
Emaar Properties, the Arab world’s largest developer, came under scrutiny this month when it closed the observation deck at Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower and the firm’s flagship project, just a month after its fanfare opening.
Dubai Mall’s aquarium was designed to hold 33,000 living creatures, representing more than 85 species including over 400 sharks and rays combined, according to the mall’s website.
A witness said water had been leaking from a crack in the aquarium glass.
“I saw a small crack in the aquarium glass and there was a little water coming out and a lot of water on the floor,” said Ranjin, a 27-year old corporate secretary. “The police came and evacuated the area around the aquarium.”
Additional reporting by Rania Oteify and Cynthia Johnston; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Diana Abdallah