Saudi Arabia: 13 killed in a bus crash in Mecca

Iran calls to strip Saudi Arabia of organizing annual Hajj

Six Egyptian pilgrims were killed and 14 others wounded in Saturday’s bus crash in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian Community in Saudi Arabia announced on its Facebook page Sunday.

The accident took place on a road connecting the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Taif, as the bus was transporting 49 passengers of different nationalities who were performing the Umrah, the minor Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

The deadly accident left a total of 13 killed and 35 injured.

News outlets quoted Saudi officials as saying that initial investigations showed that the accident happened due to the bus’s front tire bursting.

New safety systems for Hajj rituals

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to introduce electronic identification bracelets for all pilgrims heading to Mecca for Hajj as part of a safety drive.

Containing personal and medical information, the e-bracelets will help authorities provide care and identify people, the official Saudi Press Agency SPA said on Thursday.

Water-resistant and connected to GPS, the devices will also instruct worshippers on timings of prayers and a multi-lingual help desk to guide especially non-Arabic speaking pilgrims around the various rituals of the annual Islamic event.

Every year, millions of Muslims travel to Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites, which are under the custody of Saudi Arabia.

Last year, authorities say 769 pilgrims died in the stampede in the Mecca district of Mina when thousands of pilgrims converged on a walkway intersection. The majority of the victims were Iranian nationals.

To address the security issues, nearly a thousand new surveillance cameras have been installed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, monitoring pilgrim movements, Saudi newspapers have reported.