Abraj Al Bait Towers

Thirty-five foreign pilgrims were killed and four others injured in a major bus crash near the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Thursday.

The agency, quoting police in Medina province, said the accident on Wednesday evening involved a collision between "a private chartered bus... with a heavy vehicle (loader)" on the road linking Mecca with Medina.

The injured have been transferred to Al-Hamna Hospital, SPA said, adding that the authorities have launched a detailed probe in the incident. According to media reports, the deceased were Arab and Asian pilgrims.

The annual pilgrimage has witnessed several massive accidents in the last couple of years in Saudi Arabia. In April 2018, four British pilgrims were killed and 12 others injured in Saudi Arabia when their bus collided with a fuel tanker. They were on their way to the holy city of Mecca, an AFP report said.

Several Accidents

A minibus accident killed six Britons, including a two-month-old baby, in January 2017, while they were on their way to Medina.

The kingdom has taken several bold steps in the past to diversify its oil-dependent economy and strengthen the tourism sector.

Last month, the Kingdom has thrown open its doors to foreign tourists by issuing tourist visas to 49 nationalities in its bid to diversify the oil-dependent economy by strengthening tourism revenue.

A massive stampede in September 2015 killed up to 2,300 pilgrims in the worst disaster ever to strike the Hajj annual pilgrimage. Earlier that month, 100 people were killed when a construction crane toppled into a courtyard of Mecca's Grand Mosque.