London | Slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s family members were killed when their private jet crashed in southern England while landing, the Saudi Arabian embassy here said today.
The Phenom 300 jet which was arriving from Italy crashed during an attempt to land at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, some 65 kilometres from here, killing all four persons on board including the pilot yesterday though it was not clear how many of them were Osama’s relatives.
The Saudi Arabia-registered plane had ploughed into a car auction site and burst into flames. Saudi ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud offered condolences on the embassy’s official Twitter handle to the bin Laden family, a prominent Saudi clan with vast business interests but did not identify the victims.
His royal highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, the ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to the United Kingdom, offered his condolences to the sons of the late Mohammed bin Laden and their relations for the grave incident of the crash of the plane carrying members of the family at Blackbushe airport, he tweeted.
According to reports in the Arab media, the dead included stepmother Rajaa Hashim and sister Sana of Osama, who was killed in 2011 by US Navy SEALS in Pakistan. The 9/11 attack mastermind’s brother-in-law – Sana’s husband – Zuhair Hashim is also believed to be among the dead, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
The embassy said it would work with British authorities to probe the incident and repatriate the bodies for burial in Saudi Arabia. The aircraft, which was understood to be flying from Milan-Malpensa Airport in Italy, came down after overshooting the runway and clipping a fence. The Embraer jet then flipped over and landed on a number of cars in an adjacent auction site, sparking a huge blaze. Around 20 cars were completely destroyed.
An eyewitness to yesterday’s crash said the jet exploded on impact at the British Car Auctions site, that operates an auction site and warehouse at the Hampshire airfield. Barry Wright said he was at the warehouse when the crash occurred and that the plane went up in a ball of flames in about 60 seconds.
The plane was owned by Salem Aviation, a company which is part of the bin Laden conglomerate based in Jeddah. If the deaths of members of the bin Laden clan are confirmed, it would be the third time the family had fallen victim to a plane crash.
On September 3 1967, Osama’s father Mohammed bin Laden was killed when his Beechcraft 18 crashed on a landing strip near Usran in Saudi Arabia.
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