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Accrington man 'among injured' in fatal Mecca coach crash

A mother-of-six from Blackburn has been named among four Brits killed

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Pilgrims circle the Kaaba during the Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

An Accrington man is said to have been injured in a fiery coach crash in Saudi Arabia which left four Britons, including an OAP from East Lancashire, dead.

Mother-of-six Raj Begum Hussain, 70, from Blackburn, is understood to have died along with an elderly woman and her adult son, from Preston and an elderly man, also from Preston.

Another 12 British citizens were injured in the tragedy around 30 miles north of Mecca on Saturday.

The group were travelling in a coach when it collided with a petrol tanker near the town of Al Khalas, said Blackburn-based travel operator Hashim Travel.

The driver of the tanker is also said to have died, while other coach passengers were treated for fractures.

The travel firm’s director, Gulfaraz Zaman, said: “The coach driver said they were travelling in the opposite direction to the petrol tanker when a car 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.”

Mr Zaman told the Observer: “It’s very tragic and very sad, especially for the families that have lost their lives.

“We have been doing this for the past 20 years and it’s the first incident. We found out about 11am UK time on Saturday morning. We received information that there had been a crash involving the coach our pilgrims were travelling in.

“There was a petrol tanker that crashed into it and it caused both the coach and petrol tanker to catch fire. There were four people who lost their lives.

“There were others who had injuries like broken legs, broken noses, head injuries. The man from Accrington was injured as well.”

Mr Zaman added: “There are still five or six still in hospital and the rest have been discharged and taken back to the hotel.

“My father flew out yesterday to go and assist them.

“The coach was so badly damaged that there was only the metal frame of it left.

“Their passports and everything had been burnt in the fire so those travel documents will have to be replaced.

“We are in contact with the British Consulate and the High Commissioner.”

The BBC said Mrs Hussain was travelling with her younger sister who survived but was injured, while a young child was also said to have been hurt.

Her family told the broadcaster: “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.”

The victims were among 18 people on board the coach which was travelling from Mecca to Medina as part of an Umra pilgrimage.

Family members of are planning to fly out to Saudi Arabia within the next 24 hours.

The Foreign Office (FCO) spokesman said it supporting the British families of the dead and injured.

Meanwhile the Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, has instructed his consular team to issue them with emergency visas.

He tweeted: “My sincere sympathies and thoughts are with the families of the four British pilgrims who tragically died in a coach crash in the Kingdom on Saturday and for the pilgrims who were injured.”

Al Khalas is a settlement roughly 30 miles north of the holy site of Mecca.

Hashim Travel said it has been operating specialist Hajj and Umra tour packages for more than 15 years.

The Umra pilgrimage, which can be undertaken any time of the year, is a smaller version of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which sees millions of Muslims travel to Mecca.

A spokesman for the Council of British Hajjis said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have been affected by this tragic accident whilst on the Umrah pilgrimage to the holy lands. We have been in touch with the British Consulate in Jeddah who are providing on the ground consular support.”

Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah, said: “I am really saddened to hear of the death of pilgrims. My prayers and thoughts for them and their family at this difficult time.”