Middle East

At least 15 pilgrims killed in Saudi Arabia hotel fire

Emergency personnel evacuate injured people after the fire broke at the hotel in Medina (8 February 2014) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Preliminary indications suggest that the casualties were killed by suffocation

At least 15 people have been killed and 130 injured in a fire at a hotel used by pilgrims in the Saudi holy city of Medina, state media report.

The blaze started on Saturday afternoon, the authorities say, in the eastern part of the city.

The victims' nationalities are unclear - about 700 people from different countries were staying at the hotel.

The travellers were in Medina to perform the Umra, or minor, pilgrimage made by Muslims.

The city is where the the Prophet Muhammad is buried and is Islam's second holiest city, after Mecca.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pilgrims injured in the fire were hastily evacuated

Television stations in Egypt said that some Egyptians were among those who died. Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Cairo was "still trying to confirm the numbers".

The fire was brought under control on Saturday afternoon, with survivors transferred to other hotels in the city.

Authorities are reported to have initiated an investigation into the cause of the fire.

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