11 killed, 219 hurt in residential fire

RIYADH • At least 11 people were killed and 219 injured in Saudi Arabia yesterday, when a fire broke out at a residential complex housing employees of oil giant Saudi Aramco, the authorities said.

The fire started in the basement of a tower in the eastern city of Khobar, the kingdom's Civil Defence Ministry said on Twitter.

"Cars and furniture caught fire in the basement of one of the towers, heavy smoke billowed, obstructing rescue and firefighting operations," the Civil Defence Ministry tweeted.

It added that several of the injured were in a "critical condition", and that the casualties were from "various nationalities", without giving details.

Photographs published on the Civil Defence website showed plumes of black smoke rising from the windows of one of the buildings.

The authorities said that residents of nearby towers were evacuated, as helicopters took part in the firefighting operations. Some people were reportedly trapped on rooftops as helicopters battled to control the blaze, reported the BBC.

Firefighting teams "are combing all towers to ensure there are no people" trapped inside, said the Civil Defence Ministry.

"The incident is currently under control, and cooling operations are ongoing," it said in another tweet later in the afternoon.

Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company in terms of crude production and exports, released a statement confirming the fire at the residential complex, adding that the incident was being investigated. The company says it employs more than 61,000 workers worldwide from 77 countries.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline '11 killed, 219 hurt in residential fire'. Print Edition | Subscribe