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Fire Destroys Parts of Saudi Museum

June 11, 2002

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ A huge fire in the kingdom’s largest private museum has destroyed many pieces of art, police said Tuesday.

The fire on Monday gutted two of the three buildings housing the Abdul Rauf Hasan Khalil Museum in the Red Sea city of Jiddah, police said, adding that they were investigating the cause.

The daily Al Watan quoted the founder’s son, Khaled Abdul Rauf Khalil, as saying the fire might have been caused by an electrical short-circuit.

The museum, which opened more than 10 years ago, included about $266 million worth of artifacts. About 13,500 pieces of art date back from the Stone Age and the early Islamic period.

Khaled Abdul Rauf Khalil was quoted as saying the decorations inside and outside the museum, as well as some of the ancient pieces of art, were made of wood and had burned down. He provided no other details.

No casualties were reported.

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