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Canadians, Pakistani and Nigerian among dead in Saudi fire

Three Canadians, a Pakistani and a Nigerian were among those killed in a fire that engulfed parts of a residential compound in the kingdom’s oil-rich east, a Saudi official said.

The blaze began early yesterday in a sprawling, multistory housing complex in the city of Khobar that accommodates workers for state oil giant Saudi Aramco.

Col Ali bin Saad al-Qahtani, a civil defence spokesman for the kingdom’s Eastern Province, provided the update in comments carried by the official Saudi Press Agency early today.

He said a total of 10 people died and 259 were injured in the blaze. The civil defence directorate previously said 11 people were killed.

Al-Qahtani did not provide the nationalities of the other five people killed.

Of those injured, 179 have left the hospital after receiving treatment.

A preliminary investigation suggests a short circuit in an electrical transformer in the building’s basement sparked the blaze, which quickly spread through 130 cars parked in the basement, he said.

The complex, known as Radium, is a gated community of eight six-story buildings with a total of 486 residential units as well as swimming pools and other leisure facilities, according to Aramco’s website.