21 Umrah pilgrims dead in bus accident in Saudi Arabia; 2 Indians among many injured

Riyadh: In an unfortunate incident, at least 21 Umrah pilgrims lost their lives, and 29 others, including two Indian nationals, were seriously injured in a bus accident in Saudi Arabia’s Asir on Monday. The bus travelling to Mecca collided with a bridge, overturned, and caught fire due to a brake failure.

Among the injured, two Indian nationals, Muhammad Bilal and Raza Khan, have been admitted to two hospitals, and one of them is in critical condition. Red Crescent Authority and Saudi civil defence teams arrived quickly at the accident site and cordoned off the area.

State TV Al-Ekhbariya said the accident occurred around 4 pm in Aqabat Shaar, in Asir province. The bus had departed Khamis Mushayt and was heading to Abha.

According to reports, a break-failure on the bus led to a collision with a barrier at the end of a bridge, which caused it to overturn and catch fire. The accident took place just months before millions of Muslims are anticipated to travel for the annual hajj pilgrimage and during the first week of Ramzan, a busy time for umrah pilgrimages.

The report states that there were 47 passengers in the bus. Besides two Indians, there were five Yemenis, two Sudanese nationals and one Egyptian and Pakistani national each. The remaining passengers were all Bangladeshis. The injured are undergoing treatment at Mahail General Hospital, Asir Hospital in Abaha, Abaha Private Hospital and Saudi German Hospital.

Transporting pilgrims across the holy sites of Saudi Arabia is a risky duty, especially during the hajj when roads may be hectic and buses can cause endless traffic jams.

In October 2019, about 35 foreigners were killed and four more injured after a bus collided with another big vehicle near Medina.

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