A massive construction crane crashed into Makkah’s Grand Mosque in stormy weather Friday, killing at least 107 people and injuring 238, Saudi authorities said, less than a fortnight before the Haj pilgrimage starts.
According to the Saudi civil defence authority around 238 people were injured in the incident and they are currently being treated in the nearby hospitals.
“All those who were wounded and the dead have been taken to hospital. There are no casualties left at the location,” he added. Strong wind and rains had uprooted trees and affected cranes in the area, he said.
A statement by a spokesman for the administration of the mosques in Makkah and Madina said the crane smashed into the part of the Grand Mosque where worshippers circumambulate the Kaaba and where pilgrims walk between Mount Safa and Marwa.
The civil defence authority said on Twitter that emergency teams were sent to the scene after a “crane fell at the Grand Mosque.” That came about an hour after it tweeted that Makkah was “witnessing medium to heavy rains,” with pictures circulating on social media showing lightning.
Meanwhile, Pakistani embassy officials say they were trying to find out if any Pakistani pilgrim died or suffered injuries in the accident.
Few details were immediately available but pictures circulating on social media showed bloodied bodies strewn across part of the mosque where the crane was seen having crashed into the ceiling.
The incident occurred as hundreds of thousands of Muslims gather from all over the world for the annual Haj pilgrimage set to begin later this month.
The civil defence authority announced the collapse and a series of rising casualty numbers on its official Twitter account. It said 238 people were wounded in the accident.
The nationalities of those killed have not been ascertained as of now.
Videos and photos posted by social media users showed a grisly scene, with police and onlookers attending to multiple bloodied bodies on the polished mosque floors.
Pan-satellite Al-Jazeera Television broadcast footage from inside the mosque compound said to be from the aftermath of the accident, showing the floor strewn with rubble and what appear to be pools of blood.
Another video, on a Twitter posting, captured the apparent moment of the crane’s collapse during a heavy rainstorm, with a loud boom, screams and confusion.