At least 15 dead in hotel fire in Medina | News | DW | 08.02.2014
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At least 15 dead in hotel fire in Medina

A fire at a hotel in the Saudi Arabian city of Medina has reportedly killed at least 15 people. Around 130 others have been wounded, with the hotel popular with religious pilgims.

The blaze at the hotel, located in the city's east, started on Saturday afternoon. Around 700 guests of different nationalities were staying at the hotel, according to a statement from the local governorate. It added preliminary indications suggest those who died did so of suffocation.

A report from Egypt's state television station said the blaze had been started by an electrical short circuit, although that is yet to be confirmed by authorities. A number of Egyptians are believed to be among the dead.

Saudi Arabia's state news agency said firefighters took more than two hours to put out the fire, and that a nearby hotel had to be evacuated as a precautionary measure.

Medina, lying in Saudi Arabia's west, is a major pilgrimage destination for Muslims. Islam's second holiest city, behind Mecca, it is the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad.

ph/tj (dpa, Reuters, AP)