Bin Laden family on Blackbushe Airport crash plane

  • 1 August 2015
  • From the section England
Media captionThe "devastating" scene after the jet plane crash near Blackbushe Airport was captured on video

Family members of Osama Bin Laden were killed in a private jet crash in Hampshire on Friday, the Saudi Arabian embassy in the UK has said.

It came down near Blackbushe Airport, close to the Surrey border, killing the pilot and all three passengers.

In a statement, the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, offered condolences to the Bin Laden family.

The embassy said it was in contact with the British crash investigators.

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."

The embassy added that it was working with the British authorities to ensure the speedy handover of the bodies for funerals and burials in Saudi Arabia.

The plane - an Embraer Phenom 300 - is reported to have belonged to an aviation firm owned by the Saudi-based family of the former al-Qaeda leader.

Image copyright Geoff Pierce
Image caption Aviation enthusiast Geoff Pierce took this photograph of the aircraft moments before it crashed
Image copyright Geoff Pierce
Image caption There was a thick plume of smoke following the crash

The plane, which was arriving from Milan, Italy, crashed into a British Car Auctions site at the airfield shortly after 15:00 BST, exploding on impact.

Eyewitnesses at the scene said there had been a "ball of flames" and "several explosions".

The pilot and all three passengers were killed but no-one on the ground was injured, Hampshire Police said.

In a statement, the force said: "We do believe three of the deceased to be the mother, sister and brother-in-law of the owner of the aircraft, all of whom are from the Bin Laden family, but formal post-mortem examinations are ongoing.

"They were Saudi Arabian nationals and visiting the UK on vacation."

It is carrying out a joint investigation with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and has urged anyone with pictures and videos to get in touch on 101.

A spokeswoman for AAIB said a team had been deployed to the site.

In a statement, Blackbushe Airport, in Yateley, 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."

The Bin Laden family tree

  • Osama Bin Laden's father Mohammed was originally from Yemen and moved to Saudi Arabia in the 1910s
  • He became the head of a construction empire that is behind some of the biggest building projects in Saudi Arabia
  • Mohammed Bin Laden, who died in a plane crash in 1968, had many wives, and is estimated to have had at least 50 children
  • His eldest son, Salem Bin Laden, also died in a plane crash in Texas in 1988
  • The Bin Laden family - many of whom live in the US - severed ties with Osama before disowning him after the 11 September attacks

A spokeswoman for Milan Malpensa Airport confirmed the plane had left at 13:30 BST on its way to Hampshire.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation tweeted that the plane was a Saudi-registered private aircraft, and said it would support the UK's AAIB in its investigation.

Geoff Pierce, an aviation enthusiast from Fleet in Hampshire, was at Blackbushe airfield and saw the plane come down.

He said the plane did not seem to make a normal approach and appeared to be going at high speed.

"The next thing I knew the siren was wailing on the control tower and then I saw a big plume of black smoke," he said.

Image caption The crash happened on the border between Hampshire and Surrey
Image copyright @NathanGFilm
Image caption According to eye-witnesses, the jet exploded as it crashed into the car auction site at the airfield

Analysis: BBC Arabic reporter Reda El Mawy

The Bin Laden family image is very different in Saudi Arabia compared to the West.

In Saudi Arabia, they are known as philanthropists and as successful business people that have been in the country since 1910, when the father, Mohammed Bin Laden, from Yemen, first arrived.

He started a large construction empire which still operates today.

The connection between the wider clan and Osama Bin Laden is very distant, even non-existent, since the 9/11 attacks.

A large part of the Bin Laden clan is living in the West, mainly in the United States, including in Boston.

So, it wouldn't be surprising to see other members of this family travelling all over Europe.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The private jet crashed into a British Car Auctions site

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it sent 24 firefighters to the scene following the crash.

Witness Barry Wright said there was a "huge bang" followed by an explosion.

"It started off instantly with smoke coming up, then there was a small flame from the top of the air craft, then... it just literally went into a ball of flame within a minute."

What is a Phenom 300?

  • Light jet aircraft made by Brazilian manufacturer Embraer
  • Standard models of the plane can hold eight occupants, including those in the cockpit
  • Its wingspan is 15.91m (52ft 2in), and length is 15.64m (51ft 4in)
  • Can reach 453 knots on high-speed cruise mode
  • Has a maximum altitude of 45,000ft (13,716m)

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