Five members of Newport family die in Mecca taxi crash
- 11 February 2013
- From the section South East Wales
Five members of the same family from Newport have been killed in a taxi crash while on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Shaukat Ali Hayat, 56, his wife Abida, 47, eldest son Mohammed Isshaq, 33, daughter Saira Zenub and Mohammed's heavily pregnant wife, Bilques.
One-year-old Mohammed Eisa Daniel survived the incident on Friday.
A Foreign Office spokesman said consular assistance was being provided to relatives.
It has been reported that the cab hit a concrete bridge, somersaulted off the road and ended up in a ditch.
The family had been in Saudi Arabia as part of the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims at any time of the year.
They were travelling to Jeddah to meet relatives four hours away, the South Wales Argus reported.
The newspaper said one of the family members killed was due to be married this weekend.
Rescuers initially thought the whole family had died, but they found Shaukat Ali Hayat, 56, cradling one-year-old Mohammed in the wreckage.
The child suffered a dislocated shoulder and a broken arm and ribs, said the paper.
It quoted Shaukat Ali Hayat's brother, Sma Hayat, 58, as saying his sibling was a "well loved and liked" teacher and writer of Islam.
He also described Saira Zenub as a "very talented" locum pharmacist, while Mohammed Isshaq was hoping to do a PhD in neuroscience at university, having excelled in his studies.
"This is one of the most shocking tragedies in Welsh history involving a Muslim family," he added.
"Shaukat saw what happened as the car went out of control. He grabbed the baby, clutched it in his arms and cushioned him.
"The boy [Mohammed] has lost everyone but luckily he's pulled through.
"We would like to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for their support."
Shaukat Ali Hayat's brother Ibrahim is a Labour councillor and the family had been involved in campaigning for the party.
Ron Jones, councillor for Newport's Pillgwenlly ward, said: "They were a tremendous family. They worked for us during the election.
"They were deeply involved in the community and were absolutely upstanding.
"There are a lot of people who are going to feel their passing very deeply.
"Ibrahim has gone out there to help arrange the funeral. I've spoken to him and he's absolutely devastated.
"It's a massive and unbelievable tragedy."
Newport West MP Paul Flynn said: "The city has immense respect for the Hayat family and there will be real grief in Newport tonight at these terrible tragedies that have happened."
The family were also involved in a charity work in and around Newport and in 2010 they helped raise funds for victims of flooding in Pakistan.
They were buried in Jannat-ul-Baqi cemetery in Medina, with about 20 relatives there who had flown out to Saudi Arabia.
The graveyard is a holy site for Muslims with wives and relatives of Islamic prophet Muhammad buried there.
Relatives will bring Mohammed Eisa Danial back to the UK where he will receive further medical treatment.
The family remembered with a service on Monday at the Jamia Hanfia Rizvia Mosque in Newport.
Hafiz Mjeed un Nasar from the mosque said: "It was very sad and heartbreaking news.
"When the people of this mosque heard about that they couldn't believe (it) and many of them, they started crying."
Family friend Yousouf Din Mahamed added: "Our prayers go to them and we are waiting for them to come, and obviously we will be visiting them and supporting them on a long-term basis.
"I know it's not going to be easy but as a community we will work together to do our best for them."
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of a tragic accident in Saudi Arabia.
"We can confirm that British nationals were involved in the crash and we are providing consular assistance at this difficult time."