A tragic event occurred in southwestern Saudi Arabia on Monday where a bus carrying pilgrims crashed into a bridge, resulting in the death of over 20 people. The incident took place in the province of Asir, located in the southern part of the country near the border with Yemen. This unfortunate incident took place during the first week of Ramadan, which is a particularly busy time for the Umrah pilgrimage. Additionally, this incident occurred just a few months before millions of Muslims are expected to embark on the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
“According to preliminary information we have now received, the number of deaths in this accident reached 20, and the total number of injuries was approximately 29,” the state-affiliated Al Ekhbariya channel reported.
It said the victims had “different nationalities” but did not mention them or provide a breakdown.
The channel said the bus had “car trouble”, without specifying, while the private newspaper Okaz said the accident resulted from an issue with the brakes. The vehicle “then collided with a bridge, overturned and caught fire”.
Footage broadcast on Al Ekhbariya showed a reporter standing in front of what appeared to be the burned-out shell of the bus.
Transporting worshipers 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 2016, some 19 people were killed when a bus overturned on a highway linking Medina and Mecca, while 22 others were injured.
Four British pilgrims were killed and 12 others injured in Saudi Arabia when their bus collided with a fuel tanker in April 2018.
In October 2019, some 35 foreigners were killed and four others injured when a bus collided with another heavy vehicle near Medina.