A raging fire engulfed the 42-storey Polat Towers building in central Istanbul, Turkey. The blaze caused debris to fall from the upper floors of the tower block, though there have been no reports of casualties so far.

Nur Demirci, an eyewitness at the scene, told Reuters what she saw:

"Smoke engulfed the whole building in a few seconds and we couldn't go home as debris was falling. We couldn't see anything else other than smoke and the fire that has spread with the wind."

The tower block, which contains flats as well as offices, was immediately evacuated, along with a petrol station and the buildings nearby. Hundreds of people were led out by fire crews that arrived at the scene.

Oskam Evirm, one of the fire-fighters who battled the blaze, spoke of how they managed to put out the inferno.

"The fire started on the ground floor but spread to the top storey. But as fire-fighters came in effectively, the fire was extinguished quickly. It has been cooled down and an 80-year-old woman was rescued."

Fire-fighters eventually managed to extinguish the fire, with one side of the building scorched black after the flames had crept up the tower. Huseyin Avni, the Governor of Istanbul, stated that the fire had been caused by faulty air conditioning units at the base of the tower. Turkish state television has said that strong winds fanned the flames, causing the fire to burn through the building's external insulation.

At 152 metres, the Polat Towers are one of the tallest buildings in Europe, housing over 400 luxury apartments.

Adnan Polat, the tower block's owner, said that there had been no casualties.

"All of them left the building in a healthy condition. We also rescued a few pets. Our biggest reward is there was no loss of life. This building has an early warning system and this incident showed the importance of it to everyone."

The major of the city, Kadir Topbas, believed it was lucky the raging fire had claimed no victims, saying "We could have experienced a catastrophe as at least 1,500 people reside in the building."

Written by Alfred Joyner