Firefighters extinguish fire at the port of Ancona in Italy, Sept. 16, 2020. Italian coastal city Ancona was shut down on Wednesday after its port area was engulfed in flames starting in the early hours. (Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via Xinhua)
ROME, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Italian coastal city Ancona was shut down on Wednesday after its port area was engulfed in flames starting in the early hours.
Firefighters were still fighting parts of the blaze as of midday local time, though news reports said the main fire had been subdued. There were no serious injuries reported, but property damage is reported to be very high.
The municipality announced early Wednesday that "as a precaution, all schools, universities, parks, outdoor sports facilities are closed awaiting guidance from health officials, environmental authorities, and the fire brigade." Officials warned residents to avoid going outside when possible and to keep windows closed.
News reports said the fire began in a warehouse in the port area, spreading quickly and causing several explosions. Smoke from the fires is reported to have resulted in limited visibility as far as 30 kilometers (18 miles) away. So far, the cause of the blaze has not been determined.
Ancona is a mid-sized city with a population of just over 100,000 in 2017, according to the most recent estimates available. It is the capital of the Marche regional government and an important port from which humanitarian ships carrying aid to eastern Mediterranean countries depart. The city, located around 280 kilometers (170 miles) northeast of Rome, is also home to a dozen diplomatic consulates.