Flames engulf a bus that had overturned on a busy highway in eastern Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Sabq

Manama: Thirty teachers had a lucky escape after their bus burst into flames on a busy highway in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The teachers were being transported from Ihsa to Dammam, the main city in the Eastern Province, when the driver suspected there were engine problems.

As he attempted to understand the nature of the problem, he asked the teachers to evacuate the bus. Seconds later, the bus burst into flames, Saudi news site Sabq reported.

The civil defence teams were called in and initial reports reportedly indicated that the bus was set alight by an electric failure.

The teachers used the bus daily to reach their schools located some 120 kilometres away from their homes.

The incident sparked a debate on social media networks, where commenters congratulated the teachers and the driver, but insisted on a thorough investigation to ensure lives are not out at risk, particularly over such long distances.

“There could be many reasons for this terrible fire,” Abu Saud, a blogger, posted. “Maybe the bus was not according to the standard specifications required by the traffic authorities. This would be a grave issue because it would denote a greedy spirit that puts financial gains ahead of people’s lives. Another reason for the flames spreading all over the bus could be the non-existence of a fire extinguisher,” he said.

Another blogger said that teachers needed to be treated with greater care.

“Traveling 240 kilometres every day to go to school and then back home requires the use of safe, secure and comfortable buses,” Sattam said. “It is not fair to secure the best conditions for teachers.” 

However, Al Ubaidli, another blogger, said the teachers were wrong not to rent houses in Dammam.

“We are happy they are safe, but I wonder why they have to go through such ordeals,” he posted. “Spending from three to four hours on the road every day and exposing themselves to different risks is mind-boggling. They should rent houses in Dammam and limit their traffic issues. There are many professionals who spend five days a week away from their families and get to see them only over the weekend,” he said.