Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Pilgrims die in bus crash

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Nineteen Egyptians were killed in a road accident in Saudi Arabia while performing the Umrah pilgrimage, reports Ahmed Morsy

A bus carrying 44 Egyptian pilgrims to Mecca overturned on Saturday killing 19 passengers and injuring 25. Most of the causalities were from Alexandria.

The pilgrims were performing Umrah, which can be undertaken at any time of the year. The accident occurred on the road connecting Mecca to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, according to Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Hesham Al-Naqib, the assistant foreign minister for consular and expatriate affairs, told MENA that eight of the dead had yet to be identified. The Foreign Ministry is providing support to the families of those killed and is fully coordinating with the Saudi authorities.

Those injured in the accident have been hospitalised with the help of the Saudi Red Crescent, said Al-Naqib.

“Nineteen people were killed when a bus turned over on the Hijra road,” said Saudi Red Crescent spokesman Khaled Ben Messaed Al-Sihli. The road runs between the coastal city of Jeddah and the holy city of Medina. “All the passengers were Egyptians while the driver was Asian,” he added.

The reason for the bus accident remains unclear, according to Egypt’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Nasser Hamdi. There have, however, been reports that the driver fell asleep at the wheel of the bus.

The bodies of the dead, said Hamdi, have been were transferred to Al Miqat Hospital. Three siblings, Aisa, Samira and Abdel-Salam Gadallah, are among the victims.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has sent his condolences to the families of those killed and ordered the cabinet to provide support for the injured, including ensuring they receive all necessary medical treatment, said the presidency in a press release.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the ministries of foreign afairs and immigration to set up a special operations room to follow up on the incident and provide all the paperwork needed by the families of the dead and injured.

Millions of Muslims visit Saudi Arabia each year for the year-round minor Umrah pilgrimage.

The growing number of pilgrims is a major cause of concern for the Saudi authorities and plans are underway to expand the facilities at the holy sites.

In September, 2,300 foreign pilgrims were killed during the Hajj. The victims included 170 Egyptians, according to figures provided by the Foreign Ministry.

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