UPDATE: Mother and son from Preston among dead following Saudi bus crash
A mother and son from Preston are among the dead following a horror crash in Saudi Arabia.
Three people from Preston and a woman from Blackburn were killed when 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.
It is understood 12 people have been injured in the ordeal.
The casualties from Preston are believed to be from the Deepdale Road area. A mother and son from Preston aged around 65 and 25 and an unrelated man aged around 70 are believed to be the victims.
Speaking to the Post, a family friend has described the incident as a "huge tragedy".
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."
He added: "It's not a little thing, it's a really big accident and the way it's happened...there's only the frame of the bus left."
Mr Zaman, the director of Blackburn-based travel agents Hashim Travel, described how the petrol tanker had crashed into the coach with petrol leaking under the bus before catching alight.
He said: "The Foreign Office have been in contact with us and my father has gone to Saudi Arabia this morning to help out in any way he can."
A son of the man from Preston and two family members of the woman from Blackburn are understood to be flying out to Saudi Arabia tonight (Sunday, April 22) from London once their paperwork and visas are sorted through the Foreign Office.
The partner of the Preston woman killed is believed to be flying back to the UK from Pakistan before he can fly out to Saudi Arabia.
The Foreign Office has said it is aware British Nationals have been killed in an accident in Saudi Arabia.
A 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.”
A total of 18 people are said to have been on the coach, with passengers suffering from broken legs and broken noses.
Passengers on the bus were from Accrington, Preston, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Northampton and Blackburn.
A spokesperson for CBHUK (The Council of British Hajjis) a national pilgrim welfare charity 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.
HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf the Saudi Ambassador to the UK and his consular team at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia stand ready to issue emergency visas to the next of kin of the families affected.
Anyone who needs further help or advice can contact CBHUK on 0845 833 4145 or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 0207 008 1500.
Yasmin Qureshi chair of the recently formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj & Umrah said "I am really saddened to hear of the death of pilgrims. My prayers and thought for them and their family".