Two Britons die in Jeddah crash


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Two Britons die in Jeddah crash​

Two Britons are among three people who have died in a coach crash in Saudi Arabia, the Foreign Office has said.

A total of 34 other people were also hurt in the crash, which happened early on Saturday morning, 55 miles north of Jeddah at the port of Rabegh.

The coach was carrying Hajj pilgrims from Medina to Mecca when it crashed, the Foreign Office said. It is not yet known how the accident happened.

The nationality of the third person who died is not yet known.

A Foreign Office spokesman said 34 people including "several" Britons were taken to hospital with injuries after the crash. Six were later discharged.

The passengers - who are believed to have been on a pilgrimage package visit - included two children who were not seriously hurt.

It is thought the group included people from London and Bolton and foreign nationals married to Britons.

The Hajj is a ritual designed to show that everyone is equal.
The Hajjis or pilgrims wear simple white clothes called ihram.
Mecca is so holy that no non-Muslim is allowed to enter.
The Hajj occurs in the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
Every adult Muslim must attend the Hajj at least once if they can afford it and are physically able.
Many pilgrims fly to Jeddah, and then travel to Mecca by bus.
Around two million Muslims - including around 25,000 Britons - attend the Hajj each year.

"At this stage we do not know how it happened or how many of those injured are British citizens," the spokesman said.

Diplomats from the British consulate in the Red Sea port of Jeddah were at the scene of the crash offering consular support to those involved.

The British consul general in Jeddah, Gerard Russell, said he had visited the injured, who are in a local hospital.

"About 28 are still in hospital," he said.

"I've been visiting them today. A few are in a serious condition. It seems the hospital staff have pulled out all the stops to look after them.

"It's a small hospital, not used to handling things of this scale. But obviously it's a very tragic incident and a lot of the people here are very distressed.

"I've spent the past few hours talking to them and trying to find out what we could do to help them."

'Dangerous roads'

Mr Russell later told Sky News that around 24,000 Britons were expected to make the Hajj and the journey had risks.

"It is a very large number. It's larger than any other western nation, basically," he said.

"There are incidents every year. There are millions of people who gather in one city, essentially, and at times in one small place within that city.

"It poses a lot of risks. The authorities do take quite a lot of steps to address it. It's never enough to prevent some incidents from happening.

"The roads here are quite dangerous and there are a lot of fatalities every year, in Hajj season and out of Hajj season."

Mr Russell said the next of kin of both victims had been informed of the deaths.

This year's Hajj takes place between 29 December and 3 January.