SAUDIA ARABIA CRASH: What is the Umrah pilgrimage?

Pilgrims in Mecca.
Pilgrims in Mecca.
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A mother and son from Preston are among the dead after a crash in Saudi Arabia.

Three people from Preston and a woman from Blackburn have died, with 12 others injured after the bus they were travelling on collided with an oil tanker near the town of Al Khalas, 30 miles north of the holy site of Mecca.

The bus, which was travelling on an Umrah pilgrimage from Mecca to Medina, collided with the tanker on Saturday morning (April 21) at around 11am GMT.

What is the Umrah?

Pilgrims can go to Mecca to perform Umrah at any time of the year and is not part of the fixed Islamic calendar unlike the Hajj.

It is sometimes called the 'minor pilgrimage' or 'lesser pilgrimage' in comparison to the Hajj being the 'major' pilgrimage which is compulsory for every Muslim who can afford it.

And although they share common rites, Umrah can be performed in less than a few hours while Hajj is more time consuming, and involves more rituals.