Four people were pronounced dead after a private jet crashed into a car auction center in southern England, killing two of Osama Bin Laden’s direct family members, Reuters reports.
Rajaa Hashim, Osama’s stepmother, Sana bin Laden, his half-sister and her husband, Zuhair Hashim, were among the dead, according to the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television network.
Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdel-Aziz, the Saudi ambassador to the UK, offered his condolences to the family in a statement tweeted by the embassy late Friday.
"The embassy will follow up on the incident and its circumstances with the concerned British authorities and work on speeding up the handover of the bodies of the victims to the kingdom for prayer and burial," the ambassador added.
A Jordanian pilot and all three passengers died after an executive jet burst into flames when it crashed near the end of a runway while trying to land at Blackbushe Airport in southern England Friday afternoon.
The jet, an Embraer Phenom 300, reportedly belongs to an aviation firm owned by the Bin Laden family and had departed from Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy, the BBC reports. The Brazilian-made twin-engine aircraft cabin has room for nine passengers and two crew. It was designed to land at airports with smaller runways.
Andrew Thomas was paying for a car when the crash occurred and said, "The plane nosedived into the cars and exploded on impact.” Other eyewitnesses told the BBC that there had been a "ball of flames" and "several explosions" but no one on the ground was injured.
Phil Giles, a former air accident investigator, said: "[The crash] suggests that the plane either landed too late or tried to take off again when the pilot realized it wasn't going to make the end of the runway.”
Police officials and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch launched a joint probe into the incident, while the official Saudi Press Agency said a Saudi official would work with British authorities on the investigation.
The wealthy Bin Laden family has close ties to Saudi Arabia. According to PBS, Osama’s billionaire father, Mohammed, was granted the responsibility to renovate the Muslim holy city of Mecca and later founded the Binladen Group, now one of the largest construction companies in the kingdom.
Mohammed had quite a large family. He married nearly two-dozen wives and had 54 children, reports NBC. Yet this isn’t the first time the family has lost members in a fatal plane crash.
Mohammed died in a plane crash in Saudi Arabia in 1967. One of his sons, Salem, was killed in 1988 after his ultra light aircraft flew into power lines in San Antonio, Texas, reports the Associated Press.
The Bin Laden family disowned Osama in 1994 after Saudi Arabia renounced his citizenship over his militant activities. The former Al Qaeda leader died in Pakistan at the hands of U.S. Special Forces in 2011.