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Four Britons killed in Saudi Arabia coach crash

The coach was travelling from Mecca to Medina as part of an Umra pilgrimage.

Four Britons have died in a collision between a coach and a petrol tanker in Saudi Arabia.

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

A woman aged in her 60s from Blackburn, Lancashire, an elderly woman and her adult son, from Preston, Lancashire, and an elderly man, also from Preston, died in the crash near the town of Al Khalas, said Blackburn-based travel firm Hashim Travel.

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

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

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.”

A Foreign Office (FCO) spokesman said: “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.”

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

Hashim Travel says 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.”

The Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, has instructed his consular team to issue visas to the next of kin of the families affected, added the pilgrim welfare charity.

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.”

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