Lancashire families of Saudi coach crash victims fly out to Mecca

Thousands flock to Mecca to take part in an Umrah pilgrimage.
Thousands flock to Mecca to take part in an Umrah pilgrimage.
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The families of four Lancashire people killed in a horror coach smash during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia have flown out to Mecca.

READ MORE: Mother and son from Preston among dead following Saudi bus crash
The bereaved, together with relatives of 14 survivors, have been granted emergency visas to travel to the Gulf.

Three of the dead - an elderly man, a 65-year-old mother and her 25-year-old son - are reported to be from Preston, although their identities have so far not been revealed. The fourth victim was grandmother of 13 Raj Begum Hussain, 70, from Blackburn.

Prayers of remembrance have been held in mosques across Preston for the victims. Special prayers were said on Sunday, with further prayers expected to take place throughout this week.

The accident happened on Saturday when a party of 18 people were travelling by coach from Mecca to Medina on an Umrah pilgrimage. The vehicle collided with a petrol tanker 30 miles north of Mecca and caught fire. Of the 14 injured, 12 are thought to be British. Six remain in hospital in Mecca.

Nadeem Ashfaq co-founder of the Light Foundation, a Muslim organisation based in Preston, said that people of all faiths in the city had united in their offers to help the bereaved.

“There have been special prayers and remembrance for the families of the people who have suffered this tragedy. The pilgrimage is a blessed time for people taking part - we believe that god has invited them on the journey.

“I’ve had many of my non-Muslim friends passing on their condolences. There is a good sense of community here in Preston and we’ve received many offers of help from local churches and temples.”

Anglican Bishops and Archdeacons in Lancashire issued a joint statement saying: “We are deeply saddened by the terrible news.

“Their families and friends in Preston and Blackburn can be assured of our prayers.”