State media in Saudi Arabia have reported that at least 20 people were killed on Wednesday when a bus hit a bridge, overturned and burst into flames in the country's southwest.
According to the official SPA news agency, the accident occurred near the town of Taif. The victims are believed to be Asian and Arab nationals who were traveling on board the packed bus.
The cause of the crash is not yet known but preliminary reports suggest that it might have been due to overspeeding or negligence by the driver. Images released by local authorities showed thick black smoke rising from the burned-out wreckage of the vehicle.
Saudi emergency services rushed to put out fires and rescue survivors from inside the charred remains of what was left of this tourist bus. There are unconfirmed reports suggesting there could be more casualties as some passengers may still be missing or trapped under debris.
Saudi Arabia has experienced several deadly road accidents in recent years due to lax safety standards and inadequate infrastructure. In September 2019, 35 foreigners were killed when their buses collided with each other near Medina, while another crash claimed six lives last month after two buses collided head-on south-east of Riyadh.
The Saudi government has pledged to take action against those responsible for such incidents but critics say more needs to be done to improve road safety across this oil-rich kingdom where cars remain a primary mode of transportation despite ambitious plans for public transport development over coming years.