by Leo Wiltshire
During Friday’s prayer in the Holy City of Mecca, 107 people were killed and 238 people injured due to a construction crane falling through the ceiling of the Grand Mosque (The Guardian). Lieutenant Sulayman Bin-Abdullah al-Amr, the Director-General of the Saudi Civil Defense Authority, said Mecca was experiencing high frequencies of rainfall and winds travelling up to 50 miles-per-hour (BBC). The incident has now been put under investigation, however the strong winds are said to have been the main reason for the collapse.
The Holy City of Mecca is an important place for Muslims around the world. Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, encourages Muslims to attend the pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime if they are able to make the journey.
The crane was a part of the construction site expanding the Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the world. Saudi Arabian authorities are expanding the Mosque to 400,000 square metres in order to take in 2.2 million people (BBC). Lieutenant Amr said the investigation will evaluate the “safety of these cites”, considering the three million people who attended Mecca for the Hajj in 2012 (BBC). Tragic incidents have occured when large numbers of people were present. In 2006, a stampede in the Holy City killed almost 350 people (BBC).
Despite the incident taking place days before the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, an unidentified official said: “It definitely will not affect the hajj this season and the affected part [of the Mosque] will probably be fixed in a few days” (The Guardian).