A man who hurled acid at a student and her cousin as they celebrated her 21st birthday has left the pair with life-changing injuries.

Manchester Met university student Resham Khan, and her cousin Jameel Muhktar, were driving through Beckton, east London, when they were stopped by a red traffic light.

They had the windows down and were playing music, feeling celebratory after not having seen each other since Miss Khan returned from an exchange year in Cyprus.

Resham before the attack. Photo / GoFund Me
Resham before the attack. Photo / GoFund Me

As they waited for the lights to change a man threw a corrosive substance through the open window and into Miss Khan's face - before going round to the driver's side and throwing more acid at Mr Muhktar, the Daily Mail reports.

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Miss Khan, a Business Management student, said she watched her clothes burn away as she struggled with the "excruciating" pain.

She said she and her cousin, 37, tried to drive away from their attacker but crashed the car when the "pain took over". They were forced to strip naked on the A13 as they begged passers-by for water to help ease the agony.

A kind stranger drove the pair to hospital where Mr Muhktar was put into an induced coma while Miss Khan was given a skin graft.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating but no arrests have yet been made.

As they recover from their horrific ordeal, Miss Khan bravely shared her story on social media.

On her Twitter thread, which has been retweeted more than 6900 times in two days, Miss Khan said: "With plans to visit a spa and eat a nice meal in the city, having just got back from my exchange year in Cyprus, I got a train to London.

The 21-year-old said acid attacks in the UK are
The 21-year-old said acid attacks in the UK are "unheard of for me". Photo / GoFund Me

"On my actual birthday, my cousin and I went for a drive in the morning, blasting music and chilling like cousins do, hyping it as I was 21. Long story short, whilst at the lights, a man threw acid through my window and then went round to his and threw more.

"The pain was excruciating. I was struggling to close the window. My cousin struggled to get us away. I saw my clothes burn away in front of me. He put his foot down as we were coming onto a dual carriageway but the pain took over and we crashed.

"We stripped off in the middle of the road, running around screaming and begging for water. We did this for 45 minutes. Someone drove my naked cousin and me to the local hospital, and we were seen to. We have since been transferred to a specialist unit."

The student explained that she has had a skin graft but does not yet know what her face will look like. She also has burns across her body and her sight has been damaged.

Resham and her cousin just hours before the attack. Photo / GoFund Me
Resham and her cousin just hours before the attack. Photo / GoFund Me

Mr Muhktar was more badly burnt by the substance and so was put into an induced coma by doctors, which he has now woken up from.

Miss Khan is currently bed-bound so has been unable to visit her cousin.

She said: "I'm devastated. I keep wondering if my life will ever be the same. Acid attacks in the UK are unheard of for me. My 21st birthday. My glow up complete. Just got back to the country. And now I'll probably never look the same.

"I am so grateful to everyone that has prayed for me. I feel as though I'm blessed to have my limbs and senses. But I loved my face and body.

"I just want this guy caught. I have gave my statement and the police officer is certain he will be found and sent away for a long time. But what about my face? That is forever."

Her burns have been described as 'life changing'. Photo / GoFund Me
Her burns have been described as 'life changing'. Photo / GoFund Me

Fellow student Daniel Mann has created a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise £8000 (NZ$13,993) for his friend and her cousin.

He says the money raised will go towards therapy sessions, laser eye treatment and accommodation to a place where the pair "feel safe" as they recover from the horrific attack.

Mr Mann said: "This attack has caused them both to put their lives on hold. A university student in Manchester, Resham had not been back in the UK for longer than a week before the attack happened.

"She had spent the last nine months on an exchange program in Cyprus. Resham was also due to start her new job on July 2, which she can no longer do.

"Their life is currently on hold but we want them to see that this is temporary and things will get back to normal."

He added: "Resham is usually a very confident young woman. She was preparing to open her own business over the summer, and had plans to model for Asian bridal, make up and hair artists. But now she feels as though her identity has been stolen from her, on her 21st birthday."

Australian model Isobella Fraser and sister Prue were both victims of an acid attack in a London nightclub. Photo / Instagram
Australian model Isobella Fraser and sister Prue were both victims of an acid attack in a London nightclub. Photo / Instagram

A spokesman from the Met Police said: "Police were called at approximately 09:15hrs on Thursday, 21 June to reports that two occupants of a car had been sprayed with a corrosive substance in Tollgate Road, E16.

"The occupants, a man aged 37 and a woman aged 21, were assisted by members of the public and had been taken to an east London hospital prior to the arrival of police and the London Ambulance Service. Both victims have suffered burn injuries described as life-changing.

"It is believed the victims were inside a parked car when a man approached and threw a corrosive substance through the open window. The car made off pursued by the suspect on foot before it collided with a fence. The suspect made off.

"Officers from Newham and the Met's Territorial Support Group executed a warrant at an address in E16 on the afternoon of 21 June in connection with the incident. There were no arrests; enquiries continue."