At least 107 people have been killed after a crane toppled over at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, less than two weeks before Islam’s annual Hajj pilgrimage.
In addition to the deaths, 238 people were wounded in Friday’s disaster, according to Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence Authority.
The Saudi Press Agency quoted a spokesperson for the two holy mosques as saying that the crane was brought down by strong wind and heavy rain.
Pictures circulating on social media showed pilgrims in bloodied robes and debris from a part of the crane that appeared to have crashed through a ceiling.
Other pictures showed queues of Saudi men volunteering to donate blood for the injured.
“All those who were wounded and the dead have been taken to hospital. There are no casualties left at the location,” General Suleiman al-Amr, director-general of the Civil Defence Authority, told Al Ikhbariya television.
He said strong wind and rains had uprooted trees and rocked cranes in the area.
“The crane collapsed near Al-Salam gate on the upper side of Al-Masaa area, and that caused the collapse of a small part of Al-Masaa and another section of Al-Mataf, the bridge area around the holy Kaaba,” Amr told Saudi state TV.
A statement by a spokesperson for the administration of the mosques in Mecca and Medina said the crane toppled in the part of the Grand Mosque where worshippers circle the Kaaba – the black-clad cube towards which the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims face to pray.
Al Jazeera’s Hasan Patel, reporting from Mecca, said witnesses told him that the crane fell on the third floor of the Grand Mosque at around 5.30pm on Friday.
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