About a 1000 Asian pilgrims were evacuated by the civil defense forces, from the eighth floor of an unnamed hotel in Mecca, after a fire broke out, early on Thursday; two people were injured in the fire, the civil defense agency said.
Spokesperson for the civil defense services in Hajj, Colonel Abdullah Al Orabi Al Harthy, told the Saudi Press Agency that the rescue teams were dispatched as soon as the Mecca civil defense operations received a report of the incident at 12.30 am. The agency has not disclosed the name or nationality of the pilgrims, and neither have they given a comment on the cause of the fire. So far, the agency has only disclosed the location of the hotel – Al Azizyiah neighbourhood, in Mecca.
Colonel Al Harthy has said that they have coordinated with the Ministry of Hajj to accommodate the now displaced pilgrims, and provide them with suitable housing. The Hajj, which is the most important pilgrimage a Muslim makes, has already seen more than a million pilgrims arrive in Mecca, for this year’s pilgrimage, that begins on Tuesday.
The pilgrimage has been almost incident free for the last decade, apart from the recent incident, when a crane collapsed on Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing 107 people. Saudi Arabia has announced that 300,000 Riyals will be paid to the families of those who lost their lives in the accident.
2015 Kashmir Despatch