65 dead as crane crashes into Mecca’s Grand Mosque; 9 Indians injured

At least 65 people were killed when a crane crashed in Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence authority said, in an accident that came just weeks before Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage.

mecca crash

The civil defence said on its Twitter account 154 people were also injured in the accident. Al Arabiya television earlier said the crane had fallen because of strong storms – western Saudi Arabia has been hit by strong sand storms in the last few days.

Casualties reported after crane caved in as result of strong winds at Grand Mosque, Al-Arabiya reports. (Sabq photo)

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted that 9 Indian pilgrims have been reportedly injured in this crash.

Our Consulate in Jeddah is monitoring situation in Makkah following tragic accident. We have recd reports that 9 Indian pilgrims are injured

Pictures circulating on social media showed pilgrims in bloodied robes and masses of debris from a part of the crane that seemed to have crashed through a ceiling.

Senior officers incldg our Consul General are on the ground in Makkah. Indian doctors r deployed in all Govt hosp & ascertaining more info.

Saudi authorities go to great lengths to prepare for the millions of Muslim who converge on Mecca to perform the sacred pilgrimage. Last year, it reduced the numbers permitted to perform haj for safety reasons because of construction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque.

Many casualties as crane falls on pilgrims in Grand Mosque

The pilgrimage, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been prone to disasters in the past, mainly from stampedes as pilgrims rushed to complete rituals and return home. Hundreds of pilgrims died in such a stampede in 2006.

Saudi authorities have since lavished vast sums to expand the main haj sites and improve Mecca’s transportation system, in an effort to prevent more disasters. Security services often ring Islam’s sacred city with checkpoints and other measures to prevent people arriving for the pilgrimage without authorization. Those procedures, aimed at reducing crowd pressure which can lead to stampedes, fires and other hazards, have been intensified in recent years as security threats grow throughout the Middle East.

(With Agency Inputs)

Posted by on September 12, 2015. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.