Canadians, Pakistani, Nigerian among dead in Saudi fire

AP News
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Posted: Aug 31, 2015 10:20 AM
Canadians, Pakistani, Nigerian among dead in Saudi fire

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Three Canadians, a Pakistani and a Nigerian were among those killed in a fire that engulfed parts of a residential compound in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich east, a Saudi official said.

The blaze began early Sunday in a sprawling, multistory housing complex in the city of Khobar that accommodates workers for state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Col. Ali bin Saad al-Qahtani, a civil defense spokesman for the kingdom's Eastern Province, provided the update in comments carried by the official Saudi Press Agency early Monday.

He said a total of 10 people died and 259 were injured in the blaze. The civil defense directorate previously said 11 people were killed.

Al-Qahtani did not provide the nationalities of the other five people killed.

Diana Khaddaj, a spokeswoman for Canada's Foreign Affairs Department, said consular officers in Riyadh are in touch with Saudi authorities "to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance to those affected and their family during this difficult time."

Of those injured, 179 have left the hospital after receiving treatment.

A preliminary investigation suggests a short circuit in an electrical transformer in the building's basement sparked the blaze, which quickly spread through 130 cars parked in the basement, al-Qahtani said.

The complex, known as Radium, 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.

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Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed reporting.