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A Saudi Arabian Airlines flight suffered a technical malfunction and made an emergency landing in the second-holiest city in the Islamic world early Sunday, injuring 29 people — including three who were seriously hurt.
A problem with the rear wheels on the right side of the Boeing 767-300ER forced the plane to hit the tarmac at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in the city of Medina, the second holiest city in Islam after Mecca, the General Authority of Civil Aviation said.
The authority said 18 of the injured people were treated at the airport while 11 others were transported to the hospital. A spokesman for Saudi Arabian Airlines, who declined to give his name, told Reuters three people were seriously injured amid the mad scramble to evacuate the plane.
The flight — arriving from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad before dawn — was transporting 315 passengers. Saudi Arabian Airlines — also known as Saudia — is the desert kingdom's national carrier and operates a fleet of upwards of 100 aircraft.
"Saudia expresses its deep sorrow to all the injured passengers as a result of the accident and prays to Allah the Almighty that He may provide them with a speedy recovery," the airline said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Medina is the burial site of the Prophet Mohammed and is home to the three oldest mosques in Islam.
The accident occurred mere hours before Secretary of State John Kerry was slated to arrive in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah, according to the AP.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.