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Saturday, September 12, 2015, Bhadra 28, 1422 BS, Zilqad 27, 1436 Hijr

So far no BD national among Makkah victims: MoFA
Observer Online Desk
Published :Saturday, 12 September, 2015,  Time : 10:17 PM  View Count : 3
Bangladesh is waiting to get concrete information whether any of its national is there among victims of Saudi crane collapse that claimed the lives of at least 107 people with over 238 injured as the identification of bodies still on.

“The process of identifying dead bodies is still on. So far they’ve identified 27 bodies. There’s no Bangladesh national among them,” Bangladesh Ambassador in Riyadh Golam Moshi told UNB on Saturday night.

He said the Embassy officials are there on the spot to know whether there is any Bangladesh national among the bodies.

The envoy said they have so far talked about Bangladeshi hajjis (pilgrims) but there might be Bangladeshi workers. “So, we need to wait to know what the Saudi authorities say after the identification process.”

He said the Saudi authorities could not identify the bodies yesterday (Friday) as they were busy with medical treatment and rescue process.

So far there is no information that any Bangladeshi hajji or worker been killed in the incident, said a media release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

It, however, said several Bangladeshis got injured and most of them were released from hospital after primary treatment as they were mostly wounded due to stampede after the incident. No one of them was critical.

The Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh, Consulate General in Jeddah and Hajj Office in Makkah are on constant vigil to immediately address any concern of Bangladeshi pilgrims and expatriate workers, who might have fallen victim to the tragic incident, the Foreign Ministry said.

M Jahirul Islam, Consul (Hajj), Bangladesh Hajj Office, Makkah (mobile number +966(0)504321527) and M Altaf Hossain, First Secretary (Labour), Bangladesh Consulate General, Jeddah (mobile number +966(0) 534455716) can be contacted directly for any help or update in this regard.

Earlier on Friday night, Bangladesh envoy said at least 40 Bangladesh nationals were injured in the crane crash at Grand Mosque in Makkah and they were released after primary treatment.

The death toll in the collapse of a towering construction crane on Friday during a violent rainstorm in the Saudi city of Makkah, Islam's holiest site, into the Grand Mosque reached 107 so far, ahead of the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage later this month, reports AP.

Saudi Arabia has begun an investigation into why a crane collapsed in the Muslim holy city of Makkah, reports BBC.

The huge red crane crashed into a part of the Grand Mosque as it was filled with worshippers. Officials say strong winds and heavy rains caused the crane to fall.

Correspondents say there have previously been concerns about safety records on Saudi construction sites.

The Grand Mosque, known as the Masjid al-Haram, is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba.

At least 238 people were injured in the incident. It is unclear how many people were hurt by the collapse or the stampede that followed it.

Images posted by social media users showed a grisly scene, with police and onlookers attending to numerous bodies lying amid pools of blood on the polished mosque floors, says AP.

Saudi Arabia's civil defense authority provided a series of rising casualty numbers on its official Twitter account as ambulances whisked the wounded to area hospitals.

A photo released by the authority showed police and workers in hardhats inspecting a pile of collapsed concrete slabs inside a part of the sprawling, ornately decorated mosque.

Another showed the base of the toppled red-and-white crane tilted upward at a sharp angle.

Images aired on Saudi state television showed the crane's metal boom smashed through what appeared to be the roof of the mosque.

Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Mansouri, the spokesman for the presidency of the Makkah and Medina mosque affairs, said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that the accident happened late Friday afternoon during a severe storm carrying strong winds and heavy rain.

Authorities did not provide details on the victims' nationalities, but it was likely that the tragedy will touch several countries.

The Grand Mosque and the cube-shaped Kaaba within it draw Muslims of all types from around the world throughout the year, though numbers increase significantly in the run-up to the hajj.

The mosque is Islam's holiest site to which Muslims face in daily prayers and a central site among the hajj rituals.

Performing the pilgrimage once during one's lifetime is a duty for all able-bodied adult Muslims. This year's pilgrimage is expected to start around Sept. 22.

Al-Mansouri said the crane, which was being used in construction work at the mosque, struck a circular area around the Kaaba and a nearby walkway.

Pan-satellite Al-Jazeera Television broadcast footage from inside the mosque compound said to be from the aftermath of the accident, showing the floor strewn with rubble and what appear to be pools of blood.

Another video, on a Twitter posting, captured the apparent moment of the red-and-white crane's collapse during a heavy rainstorm, with a loud boom, screams and confusion.

During the week of the hajj, Muslims converge on Makkah to perform a series of rituals, including the circling of the cube-shaped Kaaba, praying and holding vigil at Mount Arafat and perform the symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles at the three pillars in Mina.

Prayers on and around the mount are a climactic emotional and spiritual moment in the hajj. The faithful believe that on that day the gates of heaven are open, prayers are answered and past sins are forgiven.

In 2006, more than 360 pilgrims died in a stampede at the desert plain of Mina, near Makkah. A crush of pilgrims two years earlier left 244 dead.

The worst hajj-related tragedy was in 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims died in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Makkah.


Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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