Hajj flight grounded, pilgrims stranded

A Saudi Airways flight due to carry more than 350 Hajj pilgrims yesterday morning to Mecca was grounded at the Bandaranaike International Airport with a technical fault, leaving the passengers stranded.

The pilgrims for flight 783 have been put up at two five-star hotels in Colombo and assured that they would be able to fly today. The flight was due to take off at 11.20 a.m. yesterday, but shortly before passengers boarded the flight, it had developed a malfunction.

However, airport sources said that the required spare parts will be arriving only on another Saudi Airways flight due in Colombo at 10.40 am today, after which repairs would be effected and the flight likely to take off in the evening.

Officials of the airline were not available for comment. This year some 6,200 visas were issued for Hajj pilgrims.

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