Briton dies in Iran during charity car rally

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The Independent Online

A young British man was killed and another injured while driving across Iran during a charity car rally to Mongolia.

The 24-year-old died on Friday after their car crashed near Mashhad, the country's second largest city.

His team-mates, a 25-year-old fellow Scot and a 26-year-old Italian, were in a local hospital last night in a serious but stable condition.

The trio were in one of 350 vehicles that set off from different parts of Europe on 24 July on the Mongol Rally, which advertises itself as "fighting to make the world less boring". Participants take about four weeks, choosing their own route of between 7,000 and 10,000 miles through remote parts of Europe and Asia to reach Mongolia. The only criteria is that the vehicle must be an ambulance or fire engine or a car of less than 10 years old with an engine under 1.2 litres.

Competitors must raise at least a £1,000 for charity, and the team had chosen to donate their money to the Christina Noble Children's Foundation.

While acknowledging on their blog that it was a dangerous venture "taking a wholly unsuitable car through some of the most remote parts of the world with absolutely no support system to back us up," their reports home spoke of the fun they were having.

Just days before the accident, they wrote: "So, then we crossed into Iran, full of expectations and preconceptions that were pretty much instantly shattered. The Iranians are probably the most friendly, welcoming people we have ever met (except the Scottish of course).

"As soon as we crossed the border people were honking their horns and waving at us. We stopped for directions and immediately a group of people came along with children laughing and asking us to take photos of them. We were even stopped by the police for speeding but all they did was shake our hands, tell us our "speed is very bad" then sent us on our way with a friendly goodbye. What a great country."

While some participants have been injured since the event was set up in 2004, the organisers said last night that this was the first time anyone had died.

"We are deeply saddened to announce the death of a participant taking part in the Mongol Rally 2010. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased at this difficult time," said a spokesman for organisers The Adventurists .

"The team were involved in a serious traffic accident on Friday. Two team members were injured and are now in hospital in a stable condition. Sadly, one of the members of the team died as a result of his injuries. Reports confirm that nobody else has been hurt in this incident," it added.

The company urged the families of those taking part not to worry as the dead man's next of kin had been informed.