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Osama bin Laden's relatives among plane crash dead

Published 01/08/2015

Smoke rising from Blackbushe airport after a light aircraft crashed into a car auction site (@NathanGFilm/Twitter/PA)
Smoke rising from Blackbushe airport after a light aircraft crashed into a car auction site (@NathanGFilm/Twitter/PA)

Relatives of al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden were among the four people who died when a private jet crash-landed at a car auction site in Hampshire.

The Saudi-registered Phenom 300 jet was attempting to land at Blackbushe Airport when it crashed on to dozens of cars and burst into flames on Friday afternoon.

Emergency services at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, after four people died when a private Phenom 300 jet crash-landed. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA
Emergency services at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, after four people died when a private Phenom 300 jet crash-landed. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA

Hampshire Police confirmed that all three passengers on board the plane were members of the large and wealthy Bin Laden family, from Saudi Arabia, who were visiting the UK on holiday.

The plane's Jordanian pilot also died in the crash.

Arab media have named the relatives as Osama bin Laden's stepmother Rajaa Hashim, his sister Sana bin Laden and her husband Zuhair Hashim.

A police spokesman said: "We do believe three of the deceased to be the mother, sister and brother-in-law of the owner of the aircraft, all of whom are from the Bin Laden family, but formal post-mortem examinations are ongoing.

"They were Saudi Arabian nationals and visiting the UK on vacation."

The Saudi ambassador to the UK offered his condolences to the Bin Laden family, who own a major construction company in Saudi Arabia.

The statement said: "His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud ... has paid his condolences to the family and relatives of Mohammed bin Laden at Blackbushe Airport in Britain for the great loss they have suffered as a result of the crash of the plane that was carrying the family."

A further statement said the embassy would work with the British authorities to ensure a quick repatriation of the bodies for burial.

The plane had flown in from Malpensa Airport in Milan to the airfield.

Bin Laden, who claimed responsibility for the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States, is believed to have had more than 50 brothers and sisters and many stepmothers.

His billionaire father Mohammed founded the Binladen Group, a sprawling construction conglomerate awarded many major building contracts in the Sunni kingdom. He died in a plane crash in Saudi Arabia in 1967.

Handout photo dated 15/08/14 of the Phenom 300 jet believed to be the aircraft that crash-landed into a car auction site at Blackbushe Airport. Photo: Robert Belcher/PA
Handout photo dated 15/08/14 of the Phenom 300 jet believed to be the aircraft that crash-landed into a car auction site at Blackbushe Airport. Photo: Robert Belcher/PA

The Bin Laden family disowned Osama in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship because of his militant activities.

The al Qaida leader was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011.

In the aftermath of the plane crash, a dark plume of black smoke could be seen twisting into the sky, while an orange-red ball of fire raged below.

The fire appeared to be in the middle of a car park, with vehicles lined up for inspection at the auction site based at the airport.

Scorched debris from the jet could be seen strewn among the dozens of severely damaged cars.

Police said they have launched a joint investigation with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

An airport spokesman said: "Blackbushe Airport confirmed that a Phenom 300 jet with four persons on board crashed near the end of the runway around 3.09pm while attempting to make a landing."

Robert Belcher, a local aviation enthusiast, said he was driving home when he saw a plume of black smoke coming from the site.

He said: "I was passing the airport on my way home and there was a big column of smoke in the air.

"I could see the plume of smoke waving from about five miles away and was hoping it was just a car fire rather than an aircraft accident."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are in contact with the Saudi Arabian authorities following the air crash in Hampshire on July 31, including to offer advice on repatriation."

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