Fire at Alkhobar complex kills 11, injures over 200

1 / 6
2 / 6
3 / 6
4 / 6
5 / 6
6 / 6
Updated 31 August 2015

Fire at Alkhobar complex kills 11, injures over 200

ALKHOBAR/JEDDAH: A fire at the Saudi Aramco residential complex in Alkhobar early Sunday killed at least eleven people and injured more than 200, civil defense officials said.
Some of the injured were in “critical condition” and confined at nearby hospitals, the Civil Defense Department said. It said the casualties were from “various nationalities.”
Preliminary investigation showed that the fire started in the basement of one of the buildings at the Radium compound in the eastern city. The cause of the fire is still being looked into, said the Saudi Press Agency, quoting other officials.
The Radium compound consists of eight, six-story buildings and comprises 486 housing units. The fire broke out in one particular section of the vast compound.
Mohammed Siddique, an engineer who lives nearby, said he first saw smoke coming from the complex at around 6 a.m. “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, he said.
Emergency crews struggled to contain the blaze.
Residents of nearby buildings were evacuated, with helicopters rescuing those fled to rooftops. By early afternoon, Civil Defense officials put the number of injured at 219.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company in terms of crude production and exports, released a statement confirming the fire at the residential complex, adding that the incident was being investigated.
The company says it employs more than 61,000 workers worldwide from 77 countries.
Residents affected by the blaze were being moved to alternate accommodation. Aramco promised to use “all means and available resources” to help those affected.
Saudi Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser said: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the fatalities and injuries. We offer heartfelt condolences to the families. Our immediate priority is to provide full support to those affected by this tragic incident. We are fully committed to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and their families. We will take measures necessary to make sure this type of incident is not repeated."

(Additional input from Agencies)


Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

First prize winners of this year’s tournament came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 13 min 40 sec ago

Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

  • First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW

RIYADH: Baloot, a card game similar to bridge, has developed from a traditional game — usually played at family gatherings — to an online game for your mobile phone.
The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports launched in Riyadh the third baloot tournament, which has attracted more than 18,000 participants including 40 female teams. The total prize money is SR2 million ($533,234).
The third baloot tournament showed an unprecedented number of players this year, bolstered by the participation of female players.
First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. Second prize winners received cash prizes of SR500,000 and third place players won SR100,000.
The electronic version is now more popular among Saudis than the original, which requires at least four players.
“The main feature that these baloot apps provide is that I can play the game anytime and anywhere, I don’t need to wait until I find three more people to complete the team,” said Saad Al-Amri, an undergrad student from Abha. “I also don’t lose control as I sometimes do when I play it with my relatives,” he added.
However, Al-Amri admits that playing baloot online made him more addicted to the game, saying that some days he spends 3 hours playing.
Baloot apps are not new and the market continues to grow. Apple’s App Store boasts over 30 Baloot apps. In Android’s Google Play store, the number of apps is even higher, ranging from platforms for playing the game, to apps that teaches the rules, to calculators that help users track their scores in the traditional version.
On top of the list of apps are two famous versions called “Kammelna” and “Baloot VIP,” with both reaching over 1 million downloads.
There are other apps that are less popular but also have strong downloads figures. “Tarbeeat Baloot” and “iBaloot” have just over half a million and 100,000 downloads respectively.
According to the website of “Kammelna,” a Saudi app, they started working on it in 2008, and currently have more than 1 million subscribers, with an updated ranking list for the best 100 players published daily.
Baloot apps can charge paid subscriptions, ranging from monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually. Some apps sell points to customers who can replace them with special features in the game.
Subscriptions start from around SR30 per month, giving users additional features such as access to a special playing room and the ability to start private conversations with other players. Some apps have unique tournaments to encourage users to compete with each other and win points that they can use in future games.