11 Killed in Aramco Housing Complex Fire

11 Killed in Aramco Housing Complex Fire11 Killed in Aramco Housing Complex Fire

A large fire broke out Sunday in the basement of a sprawling residential complex in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich east, killing at least 11 people and wounding 220, civil defense officials in the kingdom said.

The early morning blaze happened in a compound in the eastern city of Khobar that is used by the state oil giant Saudi Aramco. The company said an investigation has begun into the cause of the fire, AP reported.

Saudi Interior Ministry's General Directorate of Civil Defense said the casualties involved victims of various nationalities, without elaborating. Like many companies in the Persian Gulf, Aramco relies on migrant laborers to help bolster its workforce.

Some of those injured are in critical condition, the directorate said.

Mohammed Siddique, an engineer who lives nearby, told AP he first saw smoke coming from the complex at around 6 a.m. Emergency crews struggled to contain the blaze. Images posted by witnesses on social media showed thick smoke pouring from the complex as helicopters hovered overhead.

"I saw at least 30 ambulances and three helicopters. The smoke was very heavy," he said.

Siddique described the complex, which includes multiple buildings, as relatively new and "nicely built" with a mix of western, Asian and Saudi residents. It is rented by Aramco and guarded by security teams affiliated with the company.