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Fire at Saudi oil company residence kills 11

The Associated Press

RIYADH — A large fire broke out Sunday in the basement of a sprawling residential complex in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich east, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 200, 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 houses 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.

The Interior Ministry's General Directorate of Civil Defense said victims were of various nationalities, without elaborating.

Like many companies in the Persian Gulf, Aramco relies heavily on foreign professionals and other migrant workers.

Some of the 219 people reported injured were in critical condition, the directorate said.

Mohammed Siddique, an engineer who lives nearby, said he first saw smoke coming from the complex about 6 a.m. Emergency crews struggled for hours to contain the blaze, which authorities said was under control by midafternoon.

“The smoke was very heavy,” Siddique said.

He counted at least 30 ambulances and three helicopters responding to the fire soon after its start.


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