MADINAH | Umrah 2019 – 2020 – 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. Four people who sustained serious injuries were taken to hospital.
The bus originally carried 50 passengers from Qassim to Madinah, with 11 of the pilgrims staying back in Madinah to spend time in Prophet’s Mosque. The horrific accident occurred on Markaz Al-Akhal, 170 km from Madinah, when the bus collided with a “heavy vehicle” in al-Akhal Centre at 19:00 (16:00 GMT) on Wednesday , state media said.
Prince Faisal bin Salman Al Saud, the governor of Medina province, also expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased.
He has instructed to provide the necessary medical care and facilities for the injured.
Daifallah Al-Shalahi, director of the complex, told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that 34 people died on the scene while another succumbed to his injuries after having been taken to hospital.
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 (Umrah).
“All the hospitals in Madinah region were put on emergency alert following the tragic incident. Among the five injured, one died at the complex while another three seriously injured were transferred later to Madinah hospital. The loader driver, an Arab national, is undergoing treatment at the complex, he said.
Madinah police spokesman said the concerned agencies have launched a probe into the accident. He said the security agencies and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) officials reached the scene of accident to deal with the situation immediately after receiving information about the tragedy.
Khaled Al-Sahli, spokesman of SRCA in Madinah, said that 20 emergency units of SRCA and ambulance units of the Health Department participated in the rescue operation.
The victims were expatriates who lived in the Kingdom and who were performing the umrah, the lesser pilgrimage to the Muslim holy places, which can be undertaken year round.
Pakistan said of the four people who survived the bus crash one was its nationals, while several other Pakistani citizens were killed.
“It has been reported that 35 passengers out of total 39 lost their lives,” the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad said in a statement.
“Initial reports indicate that the deceased also include a certain number of Pakistani nationals. Of the four (4) survivors, there is one Pakistani named Mr. Akbar, who is seriously injured,” it added.
The Pakistan Consulate General in Jeddah has established contact with him and is in touch with the concerned Saudi authorities and staff of the King Fahd Hospital, Madinah to ascertain details of casualties of Pakistani nationals.