Mancunian in pre-Hajj crane tragedy

A Manchester resident was among the casualties of the horrific crane accident on Friday in Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia.

At least 107 people died and 238 more were injured when a crane collapsed in the Muslim holy Grand Mosque of Makkah ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the Saudi Interior Ministry said on Friday.

The huge red crane crashed into a part of the Grand Mosque – the largest in the world – that was filled with worshippers and pilgrims at the time. According to the General Directorate of Civil Defence, strong winds and heavy rain caused the collapse.

Amongst the victims of the accident was Manchester resident Qasim Akram. A local friend from Manchester said a “local lad who is known to us passed away in the Makkah tragedy. His janazah (funeral prayer) is after Asr (afternoon prayer) today. He went for Hajj this year with his mum and dad to look after them and got the title of a martyr instead”.

Makkah is currently preparing for the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage where millions of Muslims from around the world are expected to arrive in the holy city between 21-26 September.

The governor of the Makkah, Khalid al-Faisal, has ordered the launch of an investigation into the causes of the accident, which happened at 17:23 local time (14:23 GMT), according to local reports.

Photos and footage taken from the scene and posted on social media show bodies lying in blood on the mosque’s floor; surrounded by construction rubble and metal parts of the crane.

Over 68 emergency and rescue groups were active at the scene of the accident, the Saudi Red Crescent said on Facebook.

The crane was one of many in a massive project to increase the area of the mosque to accommodate 2.2million people at once

Meanwhile the Daily Mail are at the centre of yet another controversy after publishing what many termed “an insensitive” article about the accident.

“The crane belongs to a German crane company operated by the Bin Laden family’s consortium, who are heading the expansion of the Holy Mosque”, the Daily Mail article read.

The paper is accused of trying to incite hate and ‘serves-you-right’ notions towards Muslims as opposed to showing sympathy and solidarity with the victims’ families.

One commentator on the article wrote: “Humans are humans. Regardless of religion and this is very tragic”.

TNT News Yasin Chinembiri

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