87 killed as crane collapses at Grand Mosque in Makkah
At least 87 people were killed and 180 others injured when a construction crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Friday night, Saudi authorities said.
At least 40 Bangladeshis are among the injured, Bangladesh Ambassador in Saudi Arabia Golam Mosih told UNB over phone.
“All the injured Bangladeshis were released after first aid,” the envoy added.
The giant crane’s fall was caused by heavy rain and strong winds in Makkah, Kuwait News Agency Kuna reported.
The tragedy comes ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage which is due later this month. Millions of pilgrims from around the world started converging on the holy city for the Hajj.
Governor of the Makkah region Prince Khalid al-Faisal has ordered the launch of an investigation into the causes of the accident.
Health authorities declared a red alert and the head of the Red Crescent in Makkah said that 39 ambulances were promptly dispatched to the mosque to treat and transport the injured.
Pictures circulating on social media showed bloodied bodies strewn across a courtyard where the top part of the crane, which appeared to have collapsed or snapped, had crashed into it.
The Grand Mosque, which houses Kaaba, is usually at its most crowded on Fridays.
Saudi authorities go to great lengths to be prepared for the millions of Muslim who converge on Makkah for the Hajj.
Construction work to expand the Grand Mosque has been going on for a long time, the BBC’s Arab Affairs analyst Sebastian Usher said.
A massive project is currently underway to increase the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres, allowing it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.
The hajj has largely been incident-free during the past few years, with Saudi Arabia investing billions of dollars in transport and other infrastructure to facilitate the movement of huge numbers of pilgrims.