Family members of Osama Bin Laden were on board a private jet which crashed 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.
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”.
Its pilot and all three passengers were killed but no-one on the ground was injured, Hampshire Police said.
The force 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, said the jet had crashed near the end of the runway while attempting to make a landing.
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 had many wives, and is estimated to have had at least 50 children
- His eldest son, Salem Bin Laden, 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: “I’ve seen that type of aircraft land a number of times at the airport. At first I didn’t realise what was happening, I was taking photos at the time.”
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.”
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 flames within a minute.”
Jennie Cole’s garden backs onto the runway, with only a small amount of woodland between.
“To think that is was that close is quite scary,” she said.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said he saw the plane come down while he was repairing his chimney.
“I was on the roof and I heard the jet and thought I would watch it land,” he said.
“I saw it going past, then it was about 20 feet off the ground and I thought, it’s not got enough runway to land here.
“I could hear cars exploding over at the market.”
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)