87 Muslims dead after crane collapses at world’s holiest mosque in Mecca
UPDATE: At least 107 people died and 238 more were injured when a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque of Mecca ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the Saudi Interior Ministry said on Friday. source
The Kingdom’s General Directorate of Civil Defense blamed the accident on severe storms, according to its official Twitter. The governor of the Makkah region, the capital of which is Mecca, Khalid al-Faisal has ordered the launch of an investigation into the causes of the accident.
The tragedy comes ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage which is due later this month. Millions of Muslims from around the world will converge on the holy city between September 21-26. Photos taken from the scene and posted on social media show bodies lying in blood on the mosque’s floor surrounded by construction rubble and metal parts of the crane.
Over 68 emergency and rescue groups are active at the scene of the accident, the Saudi Red Crescent said on Facebook. Forty-nine of the injured have been transferred to hospitals, according to the head manager of the General Department for Hajj and Umrah Khaled al-Habashi. The rest only have minor injuries and are being treated on the scene.
Here’s how things stand at the moment:
- A construction crane has crashed through the eastern side of Mecca’s Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, the holy building at the centre of the annual hajj pilgrimage
- 87 people are dead and 201 people are injured according to the Saudi civil defence authority’s Twitter posts.
- Extreme weather is the likely cause of the collapse, authorities said, with heavy rain, lightning strikes and high winds hitting the Muslim holy city on Friday, 10 days before the start of the hajj.
- Reconstruction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque had been ongoing for the past two years and was expected to be largely completed before this year’s pilgrimage, which begins on 22 September.
- The construction work was being led by the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group, but it is not yet known which company the crane belonged to.
- Saudi investigators are still ascertaining the identities of the dead and injured, but India said nine of its citizens were among the wounded.
- Images from inside the mosque show an enormous crater in the mosque’s stone floor, with pictures on social media of bodies covered in debris and blood stains on the tiles.
- The governor of Mecca region, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, has ordered an investigation into the incident.