Deadly fire at Aramco housing complex in Saudi Arabia
RIYADH - At least 11 people were killed and 219 injured in Saudi Arabia Sunday when a fire broke out at a residential complex housing employees of oil giant Saudi Aramco, authorities said.
The fire started in the basement of a tower in the eastern city of Khobar, the kingdom's civil defence said on Twitter.
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.
Authorities said that residents of nearby towers were evacuated as helicopters took part in the firefighting operations.
Footage posted online showed helicopters hovering over the site of the blaze. Other images showed firefighters using ladders to access the building.
Firefighting teams "are combing all towers to ensure there are no people" trapped inside, said the civil defence.
"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.
Foreigners represent around 33 percent of the kingdom's population of 30.8 million.
In October 2012, a fire sparked by celebratory gunfire killed at least 25 people after igniting a women-only marquee at a wedding in Eastern Province.
Seven workers perished the same year in a fire at an industrial waste processing plant in Jubail, also in Eastern Province.