Mecca Crane Collapse Kills 87 In Saudi Arabia … Hajj Commission Says Unknown Black Among Casualties
Over 180 people were injured in the accident, the country’s civil defence authority said on Twitter.
Images from the scene showed part of a huge red crane crashed through the mosque’s roof.
The cause of the collapse was known at press time.
Mecca is currently preparing for the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage and thousands of people are expected to arrive in the city from all over the world later this month.
Reports suggested the crane fell on the east side of the mosque, following high winds and rain.
The Arabian Peninsula has been has been hit by strong sand storms over the past week.
The mosque is Islam’s most sacred site and the destination for millions of Muslims undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage every year.
Saudi authorities began a major expansion of the site last year to increase the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet) to allow it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.
Over three million people undertook the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in 2012 and Saudi authorities had taken steps in 2013 to limit the number of people involved.
Large numbers of people have resulted in several tragedies over the years, including a stampede in 2006 that killed nearly 350 people.
At the heart of the Grand Mosque is the Kaaba, a black cube-shaped building that Muslims all over the world face when they pray.
Islam requires that every Muslim capable of doing so perform a pilgrimage to the site at least once in their lifetime.
Once at the mosque, pilgrims perform tawaf- walking seven times around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction.
The identities and nationalities of the victims have not been made public at press time, but many Nigerian Muslims are undertaking the hajj.
The Director of the media unit of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Uba Mana, confirmed the casualties of 87 dead and 184 injured.
“We have, however, asked our medical personnel and officials in Makkah to go round the hospitals within the vicinity of the Grand Mosque to ascertain whether any Nigerian pilgrim is among the victims,” he said.
He added that the information received from Makkah indicated that there was a black man among the victims, but his identity was yet to be confirmed.