A fire swept through an oil workers' residential compound in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, killing 11 people and injuring over 200 others of various nationalities, some critically, the country's Civil Defence agency said.
Saudi national oil company Saudi Aramco said the cause of the fire which broke out in a basement of the Radium residential compound in Khobar was not known.
"At 05:45 today a fire was reported in the basement of the Radium residential compound in Al Khobar which is leased by Saudi Aramco for its employees," Aramco said in a statement.
The Civil Defence Department said on its Twitter account that 11 people died while at least 219 people were injured, some of them seriously.
"Cars and furniture caught fire in the basement of one of the towers, heavy smoke bellowed, obstructing rescue and firefighting operations," the Department said in a statement. The fire was under control, it added.
An engineer who lives near the compound, Mohammed Siddique, told AP that it was 6:00am when he first saw smoke coming from it. Siddique said the the “nicely built” compound rented by Aramco was home to Western, Asian and Saudi workers.
"I saw at least 30 ambulances and three helicopters. The smoke was very heavy," Siddique said.
Residents sought to find alternate shelter and Aramco promised it would use “all means and avaliable resources” to help the residents affected by the blaze.
Saudi Aramco, which is headquartered in Dhahran and has more than 55,000 employees, has not identified the nationalities of the employees who were killed but it is believed that the compound houses many expatriates.
The Interior Ministry’s General Directorate of Civil Defence said the casualties were from various nationalities.
According to Aramco's website, the Radium Residential Complex consists of eight six storey buildings and comprises of 486 units.
The Radium Residential Complex is located on the Arabian Gulf Coast, between Al Khobar and Dammam. The compound consists of multiple buildings including bedroom apartments and leisure facilities such as sports studios, beauty centers and cinema and theater rooms.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest exporter of oil and its entire output is produced by Aramco.