Mecca crane crash: 65 dead at Grand Mosque - liveGuardian News
Saudi Arabia’s Civil Defence authority says 154 people also injured in preparations for annual hajj pilgrimage
New pictures are emerging of rescue workers from the Saudi Red Crescent mobilising to help the injured, as well as images of the enormous red crane on its side where it crashed through the mosque’s wall.
87 confirmed dead in Grand Mosque
The number of people killed in the crane crash is rising, according to Saudi authorities who now say more than 80 people were killed inside the mosque.
The civil defence authority is tweeting updated figures, in Arabic.
The governor of Mecca region, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, has now ordered an investigation into the incident.
Here’s a more detailed map of the area around the Grand Mosque.
The current structure covers more than 88 acres, but is currently being expanded in improvement works that were due to be completed for this the five-day hajj, which begins on 21 September.
The number of pilgrims is strictly controlled by Saudi Arabian authorities and quotas from each country are reduced due to the construction work.
Saudi civil defence authority has updated the numbers injured to 184.
It said earlier that 65 people were believed to have been killed when the crane crashed through the Grand Mosque.
This video captures the moment the crane collapsed on top of the Grand Mosque, and the confusion that ensures, with shouts as people run from the chaos.
Jon Erdman, a meteorologist for the Weather Channel, said there was extreme weather in Mecca at the time of the crane’s collapse.
“Infrared satellite imagery showed an impressive conflagration of thunderstorms in the mountains around the ‘Hollow of Mecca’ Friday evening,” Erdman said.
“These storms were certainly capable of producing strong outflow wind gusts, as is often the case in desert environments.”
According reports on Al Jazeera, the crane fell on the east side of the building after a sandstorm, high winds and heavy rain.
The news channel reported the building’s doors were shut and people were locked inside. There was “slight pandemonium”, its reporter said.
“Dozens of ambulances are heading to the site. The authorities closed off the area shortly afterwards,” he said.
“This whole place is already a construction site. What made it worse is that around 5.30pm there was severe rain and it’s just gushing down the road,” he said. “I am surrounded by people who are grieving. The mood here is of sadness.”
This is Mecca’s Grand Mosque, also called the Masjid al-Haram, before the crane crash.
It houses the Kaaba - the massive cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims worldwide pray.
Death toll at Mecca's Grand Mosque climbs to 65, with 145 injured
At least 65 people were killed and a further 154 were injured when the crane collapsed, the Saudi Arabian government has said.
The civil defence authority has tweeted pictures of rescue workers at the scene.
Images of the chaos inside the mosque are circulating on social media, which the Guardian cannot independently verify and which are too graphic to reproduce.
They show numerous bodies, some already covered by scarves, and blood on the tiles of the mosque’s hall, where people had gathered for Friday prayers.
Saudi authorities had taken a series of safety measures over the past decade aimed at preventing crowd crushes, such as the stampede that took place in 2006, which killed 350 people. A building collapse the same year killed 76. Another stampede killed more than 200 in 2004.
Officials had limited numbers attending the Hajj after a peak in 2013, in which more than 3.1 million pilgrims arrived.
Bottlenecks in which crushes had occurred along the pilgrimage route were widened and religious authorities decreed that it was not mandatory for pilgrims to touch sacred spots.
Reconstruction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque has continued for the past two years and was expected to be largely completed ahead of this year’s pilgrimage which begins in less than two weeks.
This is the location of the incident, at Mecca’s historic Grand Mosque, which is currently undergoing major improvement works to enlarge the space.
What we know so far: At least 52 killed as crane crashes into Grand Mosque in Mecca
- Saudi Arabia’s civil defence authority announced on its Twitter account more than 50 people have been killed when a crane crashed in Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
- More than 30 people have been injured, the authority said.
- Pictures have circulated on social media of bodies in the mosque’s central courtyard.
- Last year, the kingdom reduced the numbers permitted to perform hajj for safety reasons because of construction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque. The annual Muslim pilgrimage takes place later this month.
We’ll bring you more live updates as we confirm reports from Mecca.