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Saudi Arabia: fire at Medina hotel kills 15

February 8, 2014

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A fire broke out Saturday at a hotel housing religious pilgrims in western Saudi Arabia, killing at least 15 people and wounding 130, according to authorities in the kingdom.

The blaze started in the afternoon in the eastern part of the Islamic holy city of Medina at a hotel where pilgrims were staying, according to a statement issued by the local governorate. It gave no indication of the identities of the victims, though about 700 people of different nationalities were staying at the hotel.

Preliminary indications suggest that those killed died of suffocation, the statement said. It is not yet clear how the fire began.

A nearby hotel was evacuated as a precaution as firefighters battled the blaze.

Five Egyptians including two children were among the dead, Adel al-Alfi, the Egyptian consul general in the western Saudi city of Jiddah, told The Associated Press. He said most of those injured were also Egyptians.

Medina is a major religious tourist destination for Muslims. The city is the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad and is Islam’s second holiest city after Mecca.

Update hourly