19 pilgrims killed, 22 hurt as bus overturns

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Updated 20 March 2016
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19 pilgrims killed, 22 hurt as bus overturns

RIYADH: Nineteen pilgrims were killed and 22 injured, all of them Egyptians, when their bus overturned in western Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning. Among those injured are two women and a child.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that the driver, an Asian, dozed off and lost control over the bus, leading to the ghastly accident along the Madinah-Makkah highway.
The accident comes three days after a bus carrying Palestinian pilgrims overturned in a remote area of southern Jordan, killing 16 passengers.
“The bus was carrying the pilgrims to the Holy Capital for Umrah when the accident happened on the Al-Hijrah road, around 135 km away from Madinah,” Brig. Nawaf bin Nahis Al-Mohammadi, director of Madinah Traffic Department, said.
Khalil bin Sahli, Saudi Red Crescent spokesman in Madinah, said the emergency operations (997) received a report at 4.51 a.m. on Saturday morning regarding the accident. A total of 14 ambulance teams were immediately dispatched to the scene of the accident, he said. “The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals in the region for treatment.”
The crisis and emergency department at Madinah health department sounded an emergency in all the hospitals in the region soon after the accident.
Twelve of the injured were admitted to hospitals in Wadi Al-Fara Province and 10, including the two women and the child, were admitted to the Miqat Hospital in Madinah.

Jordan accident
In the Jordan accident, an Alna Shama bus veered off the road in the accident late Wednesday in Maan, near Jordan’s border with Saudi Arabia, the Associated Press reported, quoting Farid Sharea, a spokesman for Jordan’s Civil Defense department.
Injured passenger Azzah Ibrahim said he remembers the bus overturning. “Some of us were beneath the bus, and some of us were inside the bus, between the chairs,” Ibrahim said from his hospital bed in the southern city of Maan, about 70 kilometers from the scene of the accident.
Sharea said heavy equipment was used to lift the bus and pull nine bodies from underneath the vehicle.
The windows of the mud-smeared bus were shattered. Glass shards, passengers’ crumpled clothing and empty water bottles were strewn on the floor of the vehicle.
The passengers, all from the West Bank, had been on their way to a Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Bassam Hijawi, an official at the Palestinian Embassy in Jordan, said five critically injured passengers were flown by helicopter to the Jordanian capital of Amman. Three others, who were in serious condition, were evacuated to a hospital in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, he told the Voice of Palestine.

(Additional input from The Associated Press)


Saudi Arabia plays host to major Indonesian tourism campaign

Updated 52 min 14 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia plays host to major Indonesian tourism campaign

  • More than 165,000 Saudis visited the Southeast Asian country in 2018, and officials there are aiming to increase that number to 200,000 as part of a global visitor target of 20 million for this year
  • Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, with more than 17,000 islands famed for their beaches, wildlife and natural beauty

JEDDAH: Tourism chiefs have been taking part in a major five-day Saudi campaign to help promote Indonesia as a top international holiday destination.
More than 165,000 Saudis visited the Southeast Asian country in 2018, and officials there are aiming to increase that number to 200,000 as part of a global visitor target of 20 million for this year.
From Feb. 11-15, the Indonesian Tourism Ministry has been working with its Consulate General in Jeddah to run a series of events in the Kingdom in a bid to boost the country’s tourist attractions.
Seventeen agencies representing Indonesia’s hotel, airline and travel industries participated in a business get-together with local Saudi tour operators, and around 70 prominent media figures were invited to the Pullman Hotel in Jeddah for a day of briefings on key Indonesian visitor destinations.
The last three days of the promotional program saw the Tourism Ministry and officials from top local destinations, take part in the Jeddah International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (JTTX), held at the Hilton Hotel.
Indonesia was one of the main sponsors of the event which has now been running for nine years.
Mohamad Hery Saripudin, the consul-general of Indonesia in Jeddah, said numerous innovative promotional breakthroughs had been made toward attracting more Saudi tourists to his country.
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, with more than 17,000 islands famed for their beaches, wildlife and natural beauty.
Garuda, the national airline of Indonesia, has helped with the running of familiarization trips for journalists to several tourist hotspots, and other initiatives have seen free Indonesian language courses being offered to Saudis and expatriates.
R. Sigit Witjaksono, the director of tourism marketing for South and Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, said Indonesia aimed to play host to 20 million visitors from throughout the world during 2019.
He noted that Indonesia welcomed 165,862 Saudi visitors in 2018, the highest total of any country in the Middle East.
As well as its natural delights, Indonesia is Islam-friendly, having thousands of mosques and offering products which are Shariah-compliant.