35 foreigners dead in Saudi bus crash

RIYADH (AFP) – Thirty-five foreigners were killed and four others injured when a bus collided with another heavy vehicle near the Muslim holy city of Madinah, Saudi state media said yesterday.

The accident on Wednesday evening involved a collision between “a private chartered bus with a heavy vehicle” near the western city, a spokesman for Madinah police said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Those involved were Arab and Asian pilgrims travelling from Madinah to Makkah, according to local media, which carried pictures of the bus engulfed in flames and with its windows blown out.

The injured have been transferred to Al-Hamna Hospital, SPA added. Authorities have launched an investigation.

The Okaz newspaper said that the victims were expatriates who lived in the kingdom and who were performing the umrah.

This year some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world in August to take part in the annual haj pilgrimage.

The haj and the umrah centre on Makkah and its surrounding hills and valleys, in the west of the kingdom, but the itinerary also often takes in Madinah.

Governor of Madinah region Prince Faisal bin Salman expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, SPA said.

The nationalities of the victims was not known but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sent his condolences.

“Anguished by the news of a bus crash near Makkah in Saudi Arabia. Condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Praying for a quick recovery of the injured,” he tweeted.