1,000 mourn Newport crash tragedy family - as 'miracle baby' comes home from Saudi Arabia
A FAMILY and a community came together in grief today to mourn the loss of five members of the same family. And among them was the 'miracle baby' who survived the horrific crash in Saudi Arabia which claimed their lives. DAVID DEANS reports.
MORE than a thousand people turned out to a packed mosque in Newport today to attend a memorial service for a family killed while on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca.
Shazada Hayat, older brother of Shaukat Hayat who died earlier in Feburary with his wife Abida Hayat, 47, eldest son Mohammed Isshaq, 33, daughter Saira Zenub and Mohammed's wife, Bilques, said his brother was a "spiritual backbone of his family."
The family died when a taxi left a motorway in Saudi Arabia where they had been performing the religious pilgramige of Umrah.
Only Mohammed Eisa Danial Hayat , who will be two this week, survived with a broken arm - protected from the full force of the impact as his grandfather Shaukat, 56, cradled him in his arms. The family call him their 'miracle baby'.
Mr Hayat said the tot is still being cared for in hospital and returned there after the service today.
An operation on his arm is due to take place tomorrow.
"He is traumatised, he will need lots of counselling," Mr Hayat added.
And he praised his brother.
"I'm here to say what a great son he was, what a great father he was, what a great human he was, what a great pious person," Shazada Hayat told the packed hall at Jamia Mosque in Pill.
"He won't just be missed by me he will be missed by me, he will be missed by all these people in this room."
He spoke about all of those killed in the incident, saying his sister-in-law was a devoted wife.
"Here was a lady that must have said nothing can tear us apart. We will be together for eternity. She has joined her husband in eternity in the garden of heaven," he said.
"When you get news of this kind you think its not going to happen to me... Its in the hands of the almighty Allah who he chooses and who he selects.
"You go into a defence mechanism and you want to find that person who has killed the ones that you love so much.
"I wanted to find who killed my brother... at that particular time I was in sorrow and angry."
But Mr Hayat said his anger had turned to solace after he went to Saudi Arabia, where the family were buried in Medina: "I realised they were destined to be there."
Mr Hayat added: "When something happens like this always in life be prepared - you don't know what tomorrow has in store."
Newport's top politicians, MPs Jessica Morden, Paul Flynn, AMs Rosemary Butler and John Griffiths, Newport mayor John Guy and council leader Bob Bright, joined the service to pay tribute to the family, who had strong links to the local Labour Party.
Ms Morden said Newport is "one family" that grieves together, while Mrs Butler said everyone in Wales feels "the sadness that we fell today".
Mr Flynn said inspiration could be took from the fact a young child was spared.
While men congregated on the ground floor, women including family, friends and neighbours greeted each other on the first floor sharing hugs and kisses and shedding tears before sitting down to read from the Qur’an.
They then stopped to listen to the tributes being made from downstairs and joined in the prayers.
The women spoke of their shock at the news and said the family were all providing support for each other.
SHAZADA Hayat said the Saudi Arabian authorities are to be petitioned by the family to take action so such a tragedy can never happen again.
The family died after the taxi carrying them to Jeddha went straight into a concrete bridge.
Shazada Hayat said the Saudi King Abdullah is to be asked to look at what happened: "Children have been turned into orphans, speed restrictions have to be enforced. Driving competence has to be enforced more rigorously.
"We need to learn from this and make sure no more children become orphans."