Pilgrims and first responders gather at the site of a crane collapse that killed dozens inside the Grand Mosque in the Holy City of Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Makkah, Saudi Arabia - The civil defence agency said on Twitter that emergency teams were sent to the scene after a crane fell at the holy city of Makkah's Grand Mosque.
Published: Sat 12 Sep 2015, 8:06 AM
Last updated: Sat 12 Sep 2015, 3:09 PM
At least 107 people died when a massive construction crane crashed into the holy city of Makkah's Grand Mosque , with scores more injured, Saudi authorities said, days before the annual Haj pilgrimage. Video courtesy: Fahad Khalid/YouTube The civil defence agency said on Twitter that emergency teams were sent to the scene after a crane fell at The Holy City of Makkah's Grand Mosque.
That came about an hour after it tweeted that Makkah was "witnessing medium to heavy rains," and pictures on social media showed lightning. Ahmed bin Mohammad Al Mansoori, the 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, which broke the crane's fall. Video courtesy: The Star Online/YouTube 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 Haj pilgrimage. The governor of The Holy City Makkah region, Prince Khaled Al Faisal, has ordered an investigation into the incident and was heading to the mosque, the official @makkahregion account on Twitter said. Irfan AlAlawi, co-founder of the Makkah-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, compared the carnage to that caused by a bomb. He suggested authorities were negligent by having a series of cranes overlooking the mosque. Online activists created a hashtag on Twitter urging the residents of The Holy City of Makkah residents to donate blood at hospitals in the area. No details were immediately available on the nationalities of the victims.
Iran's official IRNA news agency, quoting the head of the Hajj Organisation, said 15 Iranian pilgrims were among those injured. Most of them were treated as outpatients, Saeid Ohadi said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country is home to tens of millions of Muslims, took to Twitter to express his sorrow over the incident. Britain's David Cameron also used the micro-blogging site to say: "My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones at The Holy City of #Makkaj today". A massive project is under way to expand the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet), allowing it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.