All Maldivian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia are safe and accounted for after a crane collapse at the Grand Mosque in Mecca yesterday left at least 107 people dead and 238 injured.
The foreign ministry said in a tweet around 1:30am that all Maldivian pilgrims “are safe and sound and have been accounted for.” Some 2,000 Maldivians had traveled to Mecca to perform this year’s hajj pilgrimage.
The foreign ministry set up a hotline last night while the government’s hajj mission in Mecca carried out a headcount.
Of the 2,000 Maldivian pilgrims, some 700 traveled with three private hajj groups whilst the rest traveled with the government-owned Hajj Corporation.
Foreign minister Dunya Maumoon said she was “shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific incident”.
Strong winds and heavy rains caused part of a massive crane to collapse inside the Grand Mosque around 5:23pm local time. The mosque was filled with worshippers after the Friday prayers.
Director general of the Saudi Civil Defence Authority, Lt Sulayman Bin-Abdullah al-Amr, reportedly said the city experienced wind speeds of up to 50 miles per hour shortly before the crash.
The crane fell in an area where worshippers circumambulate the Holy Kaaba at the centre of the Grand Mosque – the holiest site in Islam.
A video was posted on YouTube showing the moment the crane fell with a loud crash.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world are gathered in Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage, due to begin on September 21.
The Saudi Arabian government launched a project last year to expand the site of the mosque by 400,000 square meters in order to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at a time. The construction work was reportedly in its last phase when the accident occurred.
Performing the hajj pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime is obligatory upon all able Muslims.
Photo from Al Arabiya TV.