STUDY IN CHINA

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hajj : 107 die in crane collapse in Mecca

A massive construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque in stormy weather on Friday, killing at least 107 people and injuring 238, Saudi authorities said, days before the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The civil defence agency said on Twitter that emergency teams were sent to the scene after a “crane fell at the Grand Mosque,” one of Islam’s most revered sites.

That came about an hour after it tweeted that Mecca was “witnessing medium to heavy rains,” and pictures on social media showed lightning.

Ahmed bin Mohammad al-Mansoori, spokesman for the two holy mosques, was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as saying part of a crane collapsed at 5:10 pm (1410 GMT) “as a result of strong winds and heavy rains.”

Abdel Aziz Naqoor, who said he works at the mosque, told AFP he saw the crane fall after being hit by the storm.

“If it weren’t for Al-Tawaf bridge the injuries and deaths would have been worse,” he said, referring to a covered walkway that surrounds the holy Kaaba and broke the crane’s fall.

The Kaaba is a massive cube-shaped structure at the centre of the mosque towards which Muslims worldwide pray and which has a major role in the hajj.

Pictures of the incident on Twitter showed bloodied bodies strewn across a courtyard where the top part of the crane, which appeared to have bent or snapped, had crashed into the building which is several storeys high.

A video on YouTube showed people screaming and rushing around right after a massive crash was heard and as fog engulfed the city.

The incident occurred as hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all over the world gather for the annual hajj pilgrimage expected to begin on September 21.

The Grand Mosque is usually at its most crowded on Fridays, the Muslim weekly day of prayer.

Vanguard

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