Saudi authorities said on Saturday that Haj pilgrimage will go ahead despite a crane collapse that killed 107 people at holy city of Makkah’s Grand Mosque, where crowds returned to pray a day after the tragedy.
As details of the deaths and injuries sustained in the unfortunate incident unfold, President Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to closely monitor developments and take necessary action to ensure the security and well-being of all Nigerian pilgrims.
“Heavy rain and strong winds of unusually high speed led to the uprooting of trees, the fall of panels and the collapse of the crane“, Gen. Suleiman al-Amr, director general of the Civil Defense Authority, told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV on Saturday as reported by Reuters.
The crane collapsed when working on the expansion operations at the mosque, which aims to accommodate the ever-increasing number of pilgrims from all over the world, Xinhua news agency reported.
An amateur video circulating online, however, appeared to show a frantic scramble in the moments after the crane collapsed as scores of people pushed and jostled one another in a struggle to get out.
At least 340 people were killed and 290 injured in a stampede that started when a busload of pilgrims unloaded near a ramp to the Jamaraat Bridge.
Om Salma, a Moroccan pilgrim, said “our phones have not stopped ringing since yesterday with relatives calling to check on us”.
The official Saudi Press Agency said Salman “discussed the causes of the accident and its effects on the holy mosque” after he saw where the massive crane came down during a vicious thunderstorm on Friday.
The dead included Indians and Indonesians.
“The incident won’t affect the hajj pilgrimage this year and repairs to the damaged section [of the mosque] will begin within days”, the official said.