Saudi road crash: Four British pilgrims killed, 12 injured
Four British pilgrims were killed and 12 others injured in Saudi Arabia when their bus collided with a fuel tanker, officials said on Sunday.
Those killed were from Blackburn and Preston, in Lancashire, travelling from Mecca on an Umrah pilgrimage with Blackburn-based Hashim Travel, the BBC reported.
The crash occurred on Saturday near the western Saudi town of al-Khalas as the pilgrims were on a five-hour road trip between Mecca and Medina.
"The royal embassy of Saudi Arabia in London is working with the Foreign Office to issue emergency visas immediately to both the relatives of the four pilgrims who died as well as to families of the 12 British pilgrims who were injured," the embassy said in a statement.
The statement said 17 British pilgrims were aboard the bus.
"The injured have been taken to a hospital in Mecca where everything possible is being done to care for them."
The families of the dead have been informed and the travel company has arranged for them to fly to Saudi Arabia, the Guardian reported.
"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," Saudi ambassador to Britain, Mohammed bin Nawaf, tweeted.
"Our prayers are with these families at this tragic time."
In a brief statement, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: "We are supporting the British families of those who have died and those injured following a serious road traffic accident."
Hashim Travel says it specialises in Umrah and Hajj and has been providing travel packages to people in northwest England for 20 years, the BBC said.
The company's director, Gulfaraz Zaman, told the BBC the incident was "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.
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