Four die after coach crash whilst on Umrah

Four die after coach crash whilst on Umrah

"We are supporting the British families of those who have died and those injured following a serious road traffic accident near the town of Al Khalas, Saudi Arabia", the Foreign Office said in an emailed statement on Sunday.

A Foreign Office (FCO) spokesman confirmed there were United Kingdom fatalities among the victims.

Four British people have died and 12 others have been injured after a coach crashed on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Gulfaraz Zaman, the director of the Blackburn company, said there were 18 people on board.

The four were among more than a dozen British pilgrims on a bus travelling from Mecca to Medina, said Hashim Travel, a British company specialising in pilgrimage tours.

The coach was travelling from Mecca to Medina as part of an Umra pilgrimage when the collision happened.

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"The coach driver said they were travelling in the opposite direction to the petrol tanker when a vehicle overtook the tanker and he had to move in to the side of the road a little to let it through, but then the petrol tanker hit the coach, which caught fire", he said.

"The woman from Blackburn was aged in her 60s. Our prayers and thoughts are with the deceased and their families".

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Councillor Mohammed Khan, said he visited the woman's family and passed on his condolences. While Umrah is not compulsory, it is recommended in Islam. Passengers typically pay about £4,300 (Dh22,100) for a Hajj trip including accommodation and travel within Saudi Arabia, according to the firm's website.

The Umrah is an extra, optional pilgrimage and does not count as the once-in-a-lifetime Hajj.

Hashim Travel says it specialises in Umrah and Hajj and has been providing travel packages to people in north-west England for 15 years.

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