Bin Laden family among plane crash victims

RELATIVES of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden are among the four people who died when a private jet crash-landed at a car auction site in Hampshire.
Smoke rising from Blackbushe airport after a light aircraft crashed into a car auction shortly after take-off. Picture: PA/TwitterSmoke rising from Blackbushe airport after a light aircraft crashed into a car auction shortly after take-off. Picture: PA/Twitter
Smoke rising from Blackbushe airport after a light aircraft crashed into a car auction shortly after take-off. Picture: PA/Twitter

The Saudi-registered Phenom 300 jet was attempting to land at Blackbushe Airport when it crashed on to dozens of cars and burst into flames on Friday afternoon.

Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, offered his condolences to the Bin Laden family, who own a construction company in Saudi Arabia.

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The statement said: “His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud has paid his condolences to the family and relatives of Mohammed bin Laden at Blackbushe Airport in Britain for the great loss they have suffered as a result of the crash of the plane that was carrying the family.”

A further statement said the embassy would work with the British authorities to ensure a quick repatriation of the bodies for burial. Sources said the jet had flown in from Milan.

Acting Chief Inspector Olga Venner, of Hampshire Police, said: “We can confirm that there were four people on board, including the pilot. Sadly there were no survivors. No-one on the ground has been injured and we would urge anyone with any information, including pictures or videos, to contact 101.”

She said police had launched a joint investigation with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

In the aftermath of the crash at the Hampshire airport, a dark plume of black smoke could be seen twisting into the sky from a car auction site near the end of the airport runway, while an orange-red ball of fire raged below.

The fire appeared to be in the middle of the car auction site, where vehicles were lined up for inspection.

Debris from the jet could be seen strewn among the dozens of severely damaged cars. No-one on the ground was injured.

Robert Belcher, a local aviation enthusiast, said he was driving home when he saw a plume of black smoke coming from the site.

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He said: “I was passing the airport and there was a big column of smoke in the air. The fire service had closed the road behind me.

“I could see the plume of smoke waving from about five miles away and was hoping it was just a car fire rather than an aircraft accident.”

Belcher said he was “shocked” when he discovered that a jet had crashed, but added that the plane, which could hold up to six people, had been a “regular visitor” to the airport for a few months.

The official Saudi Press Agency earlier identified the plane as Saudi-owned without mentioning the bin Ladens. It said a Saudi official would work with British authorities in investigating the crash.

The bin Laden family disowned Osama in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship. The al-Qaida leader was killed in 2011.

The family is a large and wealthy one. Osama bin Laden’s billionaire father Mohammed, who died in 1967, had more than 50 children and founded the Binladen Group, a sprawling construction conglomerate awarded many major building contracts in the Sunni kingdom. His eldest son, Salem Bin Laden, died in a plane crash in Texas in 1988

In a statement yesterday, Blackbushe Airport, which is currently closed, said the jet had crashed near the end of the runway while attempting to make a landing.

Phil Giles, a former air accident investigator, said: “It suggests that the plane either landed too late or tried to take off again when the pilot realised it wasn’t going to make the end of the runway.

“Or it may have been a problem with the brakes.”

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A group of people, believed to be the family of the victims, were escorted to the site by police officers.

The scorched remains of the jet could be seen lying beside charred hulks of cars in the middle of the auction storage area.