Riyadh: Over sixty-five people have been killed and 154 wounded in Makkah’s Grand Mosque after a crane collapsed on Friday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported citing the Saudi Civil Defense authority.
The cranes are currently used for the Haram expansion program underway at the Grand Mosque. It is believed one of them collapsed in high winds, Al Arabiya reported.
According to BBC, images from the scene appeared to show part of a huge red crane had crashed through the mosque roof.
An Al Jazeera correspondent in Makkah said witnesses told him that a crane fell on the third floor of the mosque around 5.45 p.m. (local time) when it was packed even though the prayers were to begin at 6.30 p.m. Rain had also lashed the area.
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.
The incident occurred as hundreds of thousands of Muslims are due to gather from around the world for the annual hajj pilgrimage set to begin later this month.
An estimated 3.5 million of Muslims from around the world are expected to reach Makkah by September 20. Out of them, about one million have already reached Saudi Arabia, and are camping in Makkah and Madinah - the two Muslim holy cities.
The incident occurred despite Saudi authorities taking utmost care amid the construction work underway at the Makkah Haram Mosque.
In a recent incident, fire was broken out during Ramadan this year due to short circuit. However, there was no casualties reported due to the accident.