Fire forces hundreds of pilgrims from Mecca hotel
MECCA (Saudi Arabia) - A fire forced some 1,500 people from their hotel in the Saudi city of Mecca on Monday as hundreds of thousands gathered for the hajj pilgrimage, the civil defence department said.
Four Yemeni pilgrims sustained minor injuries following the pre-dawn fire in a 15-storey hotel, state news agency SPA quoted the department as saying.
A preliminary investigation found a short circuit in a room to have caused the fire, it said.
The hotel's guests are among close to two million Muslims from around the world expected for the hajj, which begins officially on Tuesday.
The hajj is the world's biggest annual event. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it is expected to make the pilgrimage at least once.
On Thursday about 1,000 Asian pilgrims were evacuated from their high-rise hotel in Mecca when a fire broke out. Two Indonesian pilgrims were injured.
The hajj has been almost incident-free for the past decade but 108 people, including foreign pilgrims, died earlier this month when a construction crane fell on Mecca's Grand Mosque.