Four British people have died and 12 others have been injured after a coach crashed on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Blackburn-based travel company Hashim Travel confirmed one of its buses was hit by a fuel tanker on the way from Mecca to Medina and burst into flames on Saturday afternoon.
The four victims were from Blackburn and Preston and taking part in the Umra pilgrimage.
The vehicle was hit near the town of Al Khalas in Makkah Province, western Saudi Arabia at around 1pm local time.
Four British people have died and 12 others have been injured on their way back from Mecca (pictured) for a religious pilgrimage. File image used
Gulfaraz Zaman, director of Hashim Travel told MailOnline there were 16 members of their group on the bus accompanied by two Saudi nationals.
Among the dead are two elderly women aged between 65 and 70, a young man in his late 20s and an elderly man aged between 70 and 75. One of the women and the young man were believed to be mother and son.
They flew out as part of a pilgrimage package on April 15 and were due back on April 29.
Families of the deceased have had visas arranged and are due to fly to Saudi Arabia this evening.
Among the injured are people from Accrington, Preston, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Northampton and Blackburn.
Mr Zaman added that ‘only five or six’ of those injured are still in hospital, the rest have been discharged. One of them is a young child.
The victims are believed to be from Blackburn and Preston and were taking part in the Umra pilgrimage. File image of Mecca used
He said: ‘There was a crash between the coach and a petrol tanker.
‘There were 18 people on the coach which was travelling back from Mecca towards Medina.
‘It took place on a main road. Four people have passed away, one from Blackburn and three from Preston. The woman from Blackburn was aged in her 60s.’
Hashim Travel specialises in Umra and Hajj and has been providing travel packages for the past 15 years.
The Umra pilgrimage is similar to the annual Hajj one, which many Muslims undertake in August, but is smaller and remains optional.
Umra can be carried out at any time of the year, while Hajj must be done on dates of the Islamic calendar.
The Foreign Office says it is aware British Nationals have been killed in the 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.’
The crash happened near the town of Al Khalas in Makkah Province when the coach was travelling from the holy site of Mecca to Medina
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