At least 87 people have been killed and almost 200 more injured after a crane fell on Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque in Mecca on Friday according to The Guardian.
Numerous pictures on social media appear to show the crane having crashed through the roof of the mosque, with debris and bodies littering the floor around it. Although the cause of the accident has not been determined, many are speculating that high winds may be behind it.
جانب من تواجد فرق الدفاع المدني في الحرم المكي. pic.twitter.com/kBtFrXdtQL
— الدفاع المدني (@SaudiDCD) September 11, 2015
Saudi Arabia’s civil defense authority tweeted that a rescue team has been sent to the site, and Deputy Governor Prince Khalid al-Faisal has ordered an investigation into the incident.
The Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the world, and it houses the Kaaba — the holy relic to which Muslims around the world pray. The mosque has been undergoing construction so that it can be expanded to accommodate an upwards of 2 million people and the crane which crashed was part of that construction work.
This tragedy comes just before the annual Muslim Hajj Pilgrimage, which begins on Sept. 22. During the Hajj, millions of people descend on Mecca. There have been numerous safety incidents in the past, including stampedes, crushes and building collapses. Saudi Arabia has recently begun implementing safety measures to reduce these incidents, including improving transportation, and having religious leader declare it was not mandatory for pilgrims to touch sacred spots.
Last year, Saudi authorities reduced the number of people permitted to perform hajj due to safety concerns surrounding construction work at the Grand Mosque, according to Reuters.