Saudi Arabia

Four British pilgrims killed and 12 injured in Saudi bus collision with fuel tanker

The bus travelling to Medina on an umrah pilgrimage collided with a fuel tanker

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 4:16am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 April, 2018, 4:20am

Four British pilgrims were killed and 12 others injured in Saudi Arabia when their bus collided with a fuel tanker, officials said on Sunday.

The four were among 17 British nationals on an umrah pilgrimage travelling from Mecca to Medina, said Hashim Travel, a British company specialising in pilgrimage tours.

The crash occurred on Saturday near the western Saudi town of Al Khalas.

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“The royal embassy of Saudi Arabia in London is working with [Britain’s] 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 injured have been taken to a hospital in Mecca where everything possible is being done to care for them.”

The statement said 17 British pilgrims were aboard the bus.

“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”.

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Every year, millions of Muslims flock to Mecca and Medina further south, Islam’s second holiest site, to carry out the annual haj pilgrimage or the umrah.

In January 2017, a two-month old baby was among six British nationals killed in a road accident in Saudi Arabia while they were travelling to Medina, according to British officials.

In 2015, around 2,300 worshippers performing haj were crushed to death in a stampede, in the worst disaster ever to strike the annual pilgrimage.

Additional reporting by Associated Press