Friends of a British couple who died in a coach fire while on a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca have spoken of their sadness.
One of the victims who died in a blaze in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was named by fellow worshippers at their Birmingham mosque as Dawud Burbank, and the other was his wife.
The couple were among several pilgrims from the Salafi Mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, who were making their way to Mecca along with people from other parts of Britain. It is thought that other British nationals escaped from the blazing bus unharmed.
Although the exact cause of the fire is not yet known, it is not thought to have been started deliberately.
The director of Birmingham's Salafi Mosque, Abu Khadeejah, who had known the couple for more than 20 years, said: "It seems they were on the outskirts of Jeddah when the vehicle caught fire. Everyone got off except for them – they must have been the last two on the coach and everyone else basically came off unscathed."
The mosque leader added that Mr Burbank, 49, had acted as a researcher within the Salafi community, translating hundreds of religious texts from Arabic into English.
Abu Khadeejah, who had known both victims for more than 20 years, added: "He was a very respected man, a very well-liked man, a very learned man. He was well-known and one of the best, if not the best, in the West in terms of translating Arabic manuscripts into the English language. It is a sad time for the community and we will pray for them and their families."
It is understood that the couple, who lived in Birmingham, will be buried in Saudi Arabia.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office declined to confirm the identity of those who had died. She said: "We are aware of the death of two British nationals in Saudi Arabia. We are in touch with the local authorities and the next of kin and are providing consular assistance at this difficult time."Reuse content