(ANSA) - RIYADH, MARCH 28 - A bus carrying pilgrims to the holy city of Mecca burst into flames after a collision on a bridge, killing 20 and injuring nearly 30, Saudi state media reported.
The incident, which occurred in the southern province of Asir, highlights the continuing challenges of safely transporting worshipers to Mecca and Medina, Islam's holiest cities, and arrives during the first week of Ramadan, a busy period for pilgrimages.
"According to the preliminary information we have now received, the number of fatalities in this incident has reached 20 and the total number of injured has been around 29," the state-affiliated Al-Ekhbariya channel reported.
The victims had "different nationalities" but no details were provided.
The broadcaster reported that the bus had a failure, possibly with the brakes, according to another media outlet.
The vehicle then allegedly crashed into a bridge, overturned and caught fire.
Footage broadcast by Al-Ekhbariya showed a journalist standing in front of what appeared to be the burnt-out wreck of a bus.
In October 2019, around 35 foreigners died and four were injured when a bus collided with another heavy vehicle near Medina.
Today, pilgrimages are an essential component of a thriving tourism sector that Saudi officials hope will help diversify and free the kingdom's economy from fossil fuels.