Mecca crane deaths rise to over 100

12 September 2015

Cranes do not appear to have been lowered for storm

  • Number of people killed by crane falling onto Grand Mosque rises to 107
  • Authorities say 238 people have been injured
  • Crane does not appear to have been lowered ahead of the storm

The number of people killed by a crane falling onto the Grand Mosque in Mecca during a storm on 11 September has risen to 107 with another 238 people injured.

The crane that was working on the mosque expansion project fell onto the holy site after strong storms. Images and videos of the mobile crawler crane that have been posted online suggest that it had not been lowered for the storm and toppled over due to high winds. Construction companies normally have strict procedures for lowering cranes during high winds, typically when wind speeds reach 60-70 kilometres/hour.

Contractors working in Mecca say that the storm has damaged a number of other cranes in the city, and another video posted on social media shows a crane that has fallen onto a taxi on the street below a tower block.

There was another major construction accident in the holy city in September last year when six construction workers were killed when a 12-metre-high retaining wall on an infrastructure project collapsed.

Mecca is one of the region’s most active construction markets with over $31bn-worth of projects either planned or under way in the wider province of Mecca, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects.

The mosque expansion has come to define the redevelopment of the city. Also known as Al-Masjid al-Haram, it is already the largest mosque in the world and is being expanded in several phases. Now in its fourth expansion stage, the Grand Mosque will eventually cover an area of 300,000 square metres (sq m). The main contractor is the local Saudi Binladin Group.

That project, along with others in the city, is aimed at boosting the city’s ability to handle the high number of tourists visiting Mecca for a very short period of time during the annual Hajj and Umra pilgrimages.

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