Saudi Arabia bus crash leaves 35 Arab and Asian expatriates dead

Middle East
Photograph from the Saudi Red Crescent showing the aftermath of a bus crash in Saudi Arabia (16 October 2019)Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Saudi authorities have launched an investigation into the incident

Thirty-five foreign nationals have been killed and four others injured in a bus crash near the Muslim holy city of Medina in western Saudi Arabia.

The bus collided with a “heavy vehicle” in al-Akhal Centre at 19:00 (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday, state media said.

The passengers were expatriate Arabs and Asians reportedly travelling from Medina to Mecca for a pilgrimage.

Their nationalities are not known, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “anguished” by the news.

Prince Faisal bin Salman Al Saud, the governor of Medina province, also expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased.

The four survivors of the crash have been taken to the al-Hamna Hospital in Medina, and the Saudi authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.

Photographs published by local media showed a double-decker bus ablaze on a road with all its windows blown out.

The Okaz newspaper reported that the passengers on the bus were undertaking the lesser Muslims pilgrimage, or Umra.

The Umra is an extra, optional pilgrimage. Although it includes some of the rituals of the most important pilgrimage, the Hajj, they are shortened and there are fewer of them.

Last year, four British pilgrims undertaking the Umra were killed and 12 others were hurt when the bus on which they were travelling was hit by a fuel tanker.

Another six Britons died in 2017 when their minibus crashed after a tyre burst on the way from Mecca to Medina.

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