Barack Obama’s hopes of a smooth start to his first presidential trip to Israel suffered a hitch on Wednesday when his armoured limousine broke down.
The hulking vehicle, nicknamed “the Beast” for its supposed robustness in the face of potential attacks, juddered to a halt on the motorway between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem.
An Israeli government official said the car may have broke down after it was mistakenly filled with diesel fuel rather than petrol. There was also a suggestion it had run out of fuel, he said.
The Secret Service said it did not yet know what had caused the breakdown, and the driver of a tow-truck called to remove the car said he did not know if a fuel mix-up was behind the incident.
The sleek black limo had been flown in specially from the US for Mr Obama’s visit.