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16 Palestinian pilgrims killed as bus overturns in Jordan

Sixteen Palestinian pilgrims have been killed in a bus crash in Jordan.

More than 30 others were injured in the accident close to the border with Saudi Arabia.

Nine of the dead were pinned underneath the vehicle when it veered off the road and overturned, a spokesman for Jordan's Civil Defence department told the Voice of Palestine radio station.

Injured passenger Azzah Ibrahim said he remembered the bus overturning.

"Some of us were beneath the bus, and some of us were inside the bus, between the chairs," he said from his hospital bed in the southern city of Maan, about 45 miles (70km) from the scene of the accident.

Heavy equipment was used to lift the bus and pull nine bodies from underneath.

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.

Jordan's state news agency Petra initially reported late on Wednesday that 14 passengers had been killed and 36 injured. It said the driver had apparently lost control of the vehicle.

Overnight, the death toll rose to 16, including two children, said Dr Walid Ruwad, the manager of Maan hospital.

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 a serious condition, were evacuated to a hospital in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, he told the Voice of Palestine.


From Belfast Telegraph