RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—A Saudi official says three Canadians are among those killed in a fire that engulfed parts of a residential compound in the kingdom’s oil-rich east.
Regional civil defence spokesman Col. Ali bin Saad al-Qahtani was also quoted today by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying that a total of 10 people died and 259 were injured in the blaze, including a Pakistani and a Nigerian national.
The civil defence directorate previously said 11 people were killed.
None of the victims’ names have been released.
The defence spokesman says 179 of those injured have been treated and released from hospital, and that a preliminary investigation suggests an electrical short circuit in the building’s basement sparked the blaze.
The complex in the city of Khobar houses workers for state oil giant Saudi Aramco.
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said consular officials were in touch with the Canadians affected by the incident.
“Canadian consular officials in Riyadh are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance to those affected and their family during this difficult time,” said Diana Khaddaj.
A large fire broke out August 30 in the basement of a sprawling residential complex in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich east, officials in the kingdom said.
The blaze began early in the morning in a multistory residential compound known as Radium in the eastern city of Khobar. The complex accommodates workers for state oil giant Saudi Aramco, which oversees petroleum production in the OPEC powerhouse.
The company said an investigation has begun into the cause of the fire, which sent thick black smoke billowing from the pink-and-tan colored building.
Mohammed Siddique, an engineer who lives nearby, told The Associated Press he first saw smoke coming from the complex at around 6 a.m. Emergency crews struggled for hours to contain the blaze, which authorities said was under control by mid-afternoon.
“The smoke was very heavy,” Siddique said. He counted at least 30 ambulances and three helicopters responding to the fire soon after it began.
Aramco said some of those hurt were treated at the scene, where an emergency command centre was set up, while others were taken to company medical facilities and local hospitals.
The Radium complex is a gated community of eight six-story buildings with a total of 486 residential units as well as swimming pools and other leisure facilities, according to Aramco’s website.
Siddique described the complex as relatively new and “nicely built,” with a mix of Western, Asian and Saudi residents. It is rented by Aramco and is guarded by security teams affiliated with the company, he said.
Residents affected by the blaze were being moved to alternate accommodation. Aramco promised to use “all means and available resources” to help those affected.
Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo and Abdullah al-Shihri in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.