More than a 100 people are estimated to have died and many more injured when a huge crane crashed into the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Many worshippers were inside the mosque at the time. The accident has occurred just ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage. There were a few Indians among the dead and the injured.
Confirming the news about the status of Indians in the mosque, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “Our officials from the Indian consulate in Jeddah have been on the ground and monitoring the situation through the night. We have received reports that 15 Indians have been injured and are being assisted in various hospitals. These include 11 from the Haj Committee of India and four from private tour operators.
Regrettably we have been informed that two Indians have been killed in the unfortunate accident.” Indian doctors have also been deployed in government hospitals, added Mr Swarup.
Messages of condolences came in from world over. “Heartfelt condolences to families of deceased due to crane crash in Mecca, prayers for speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Pranab Mukherjee tweeted. “My thoughts & prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the crane crash in Mecca. I wish the injured a quick recovery”, tweeted India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The annual Haj pilgrimage is expected to be attended by more than two million people from all over the world. Around 1,36,000 Indians are expected to attend the Haj pilgrimage this year. Saudi authorities began a major expansion of the site last year to increase the area of the mosque by 4,00,000 square metres, to allow it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.
With a major accident taking place a few days before the start of the annual pilgrimage, the Saudi authorities are being questioned about the safety standards for worshippers. There were an estimated 8,00,000 people at the place of worship when the accident took place. There have been a number of cases of deaths due to stampede in Mecca over the years.
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