LONDON: The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UK Prince Mohammad bin Nawaf has offered his condolences on Sunday to the families of four people killed when a coach taking a group of Umrah pilgrims from Makkah to Madinah collided with a fuel tanker near the village of Al-Khalas.
“Our prayers are with these families at this tragic time,” Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf said. The tanker caught fire and set the coach alight. All 16 pilgrims on the coach were from towns in the north of England. Six are being treated in hospital in Makkah.
“If you see the remains of the bus, there’s just the metal frame of it that’s left,” Gulfaraz Zaman, director of Hashim Travel, the British company that organized the trip, told the BBC. The Saudi Embassy in London is working with the British Foreign Office to issue emergency visas to the relatives of the dead and injured. Four British people have died and 12 others have been hurt in a coach crash in Saudi Arabia, a travel firm says.
Raj Begum Hussain, 70, from Blackburn, died alongside an elderly man and a mother and her grown-up son, all from Preston, in Lancashire. The coach was travelling from Mecca on an Umrah pilgrimage, when it was hit by a fuel tanker which caught fire and set the bus alight, the firm said. Eighteen people were aboard the coach when it crashed. All were taken to hospital, where six remain. Mrs Hussain – a mother of six and a grandmother of 13 – was travelling with her younger sister who survived but was injured.
“She will be sorely missed by all family and friends. We would like to thank the whole community for their condolences and support at this difficult time,” her family said in a statement. It is understood that a young child was also among the injured.
The group were travelling as part of an Umrah pilgrimage and had been in Saudi Arabia for a week. The crash happened near the start of the group’s five-hour road trip from Mecca to Medina, near the town of Al Khalas. Blackburn-based Hashim Travel says it specialises in Umrah a n d H a j j a n d h a s b e e n providi n g tr a v e l p a c k -ages to people i n north-west England for 20 years. The company’s director, Gulfaraz Zaman, called the incident horrendous and very distressing. “If you see the remains of the bus, there’s just the metal frame of it that’s left,” he told the BBC.