According to Dubai Civil Defence, it was brought on by a failure to adhere to building security and safety regulations. This is a representational image. Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on UNSPLASH

At least 16 people were killed and another nine were hurt when a fire engulfed an apartment building in an older section of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, police reported on Sunday, Apr. 16.

The fire on Saturday, Apr. 15, in Dubai's ancient Deira neighborhood's Al Murar area destroyed a flat that is said to have been shared by several people, a common practice for laborers who power the economy in this city-state known more for its towering skyscrapers.

However, the cramped spaces, which are frequently split by improvised partitions made of plywood, drywall, or shower curtains, provide a significant risk in the event of a fire.

According to Dubai Civil Defence, it was brought on by a failure to adhere to building security and safety regulations. On Saturday at 12:41 local time (09:41 GMT), fire personnel arrived on the spot, BBC reported.

The Al-Ras area is near the city's gold and spice markets, which are popular tourist attractions.

Dubai Civil Defence told UAE newspaper The National that an investigation into the deadly blaze was underway.

It said it was important that "residential and commercial building owners and residents" fully comply "with security and safety requirements and guidelines to avoid accidents and protect people's lives".

Salinga Gudu told The National that his brother Gudu Saliyakoondu, a watchman from India's Tamil Nadu state, had died trying to save residents inside the building.

"I was so scared because that is the building my brother works in. He went up to help and never came back down," he said.

No one has yet been arrested as part of the investigation.

Six Sudanese, four Indians, three Pakistanis, a Cameroonian, an Egyptian, and a Jordanian were among the deceased, according to Naseer Vatanappally, a businessman in Dubai who assists the Indian Consulate on repatriation matters.

He claimed that authorities were completing the necessary paperwork to return the deceased's bodies to their countries of origin.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said online that he was "very sad" over the deaths of the three Pakistanis.

"I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families over the tragedy (and) have directed Pakistan's Mission in the UAE to extend support to the affected families," Sharif said.

The five-story apartment building, which also houses a grocery store, a tobacco shop, and other businesses on its ground floor, had char marks on it on Sunday.

The structure was still heavily guarded by police and had yellow crime scene tape around it. Massive Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s owned by the long-haul carrier Emirates roared overhead as the neighborhood sits only 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Dubai International Airport along its flight path.

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