Three members of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s family, including his stepmother and sister, were among the four people killed when a private jet crashed in southern England while landing.
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 a Jordanian pilot yesterday. The Saudi Arabia-registered plane had ploughed into a car auction site and burst into flames.
A family friend told a news channel that the dead included Osama bin Laden’s stepmother Rajaa Hashim, his sister Sana bin Laden and her husband Zuhair Hashim. The dead also included the Jordanian pilot. Hampshire Police force said formal post-mortems were still being conducted, but the victims were believed to be “the mother, sister and brother-in-law of the owner of the aircraft, all of whom are from the bin Laden family.”
All three were Saudi nationals who were visiting Britain on vacation, police said. Their names were also widely reported on multiple Arabic media websites. 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.
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, who was near the site of crash, 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. Air accidents have befallen the family in the past. Osama’s father, Mohammed bin Laden was killed in a plane crash in 1967 near Usran in Saudi Arabia. Mohammed’s eldest son, Salem, died when an ultralight aircraft he was piloting hit power lines in the US in 1988.