22 Umrah pilgrims killed, 29 injured in Saudi bus crash
Bus collides against a bridge, tips over, catches fire as a result of brake failure
March 28, 2023 11:54 PM
A bus ferrying Umrah pilgrims to the holy city of Makkah burst into flames after a collision on a bridge on Monday, killing 22 people and injuring more than two dozen others, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The passenger bus crashed into a bridge, overturned, and caught fire, killing 22 and injuring 27 others.
The accident, which occurred as a result of a brake failure, took place on a road linking Asir province and the city of Abha. The victims were on their way to Makkah to perform Umrah.
According to Saudi media, the accident occurred around 4pm on the 14km-long Aqabat Shaar road in the Asir province, as the bus was travelling from Khamis Mushayt to Abha.
The road, according to Saudi Press Agency, cuts through mountains, and has 11 tunnels and 32 bridges. When the bus was making its way down a bridge it underwent a brake failure, which caused it to crash into a barrier at the end of the bridge, overturn and catch fire.
“According to preliminary information we have now received, the number of deaths in this accident reached 20, and the total number of injuries was 29,” the state-affiliated Al Ekhbariya TV channel reported.
It said the victims had “different nationalities”, but did not mention them or provide a breakdown.
The TV channel said the bus had “car trouble”, without specifying, while a private newspaper Okaz said the accident resulted from an issue with the brakes.
The incident in the southern province of Asir highlights persistent challenges to safely transporting worshippers to Makkah and Madinah, the holiest cities in Islam.
It comes during the first week of Ramadan, a busy time for Umrah pilgrimages, and just months before millions of Muslims are expected to make the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Footage broadcast on Al-Ekhbariya showed a reporter standing in front of what appeared to be the burnt-out shell of the bus.
Transporting worshippers around Saudi Arabia’s holy sites is a perilous task, particularly during the Hajj when roads can be chaotic with buses creating interminable traffic jams.
In October 2019, some 35 foreigners were killed and four others injured when a bus collided with another heavy vehicle near Madinah.