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Blaze engulfs Saudi Mecca hotel, no casualties

AFP , Sunday 17 Jul 2016
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A fire ripped through an uninhabited hotel in the Saudi holy city of Mecca on Sunday without causing casualties, the civil defence spokesman said.

Firefighters put out the blaze at the 10-floor hotel, the spokesman said in statements carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The fire had spread from palm trees facing a facade of the hotel and gutted all 10 floors of the building which comprises two towers.

Pictures posted by the official SPA news agency on its website showed flames and black smoke billowing from the hotel as firefighters battled to extinguish the blaze.

Mecca is Islam's holiest site.

Every year, millions of Muslims flock to Mecca and Medina further south, Islam's second holiest site, to carry out the annual hajj pilgrimage or the lesser pilgrimage known as the umra.

Last year, more than 2,000 worshippers performing hajj were crushed to death in Mecca, in the worst disaster to ever strike the annual ritual.

According to figures from foreign officials, at least 2,297 pilgrims died. Saudi Arabia issued a death toll of 769.

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