CNN – Last Friday, a construction crane tragically collapsed onto the roof of the the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing at least 111 people and injuring 238.
A powerful sandstorm is believed to have caused the accident, with gusts uprooting trees, breaking windows, and uplifting construction covering boards. Combined with a rainstorm, the crane’s support weakened, ultimately leading to the collapse, according to those close to the investigation. Chaos followed the incident, with hundreds of people pushing over others in an attempt to exit the building.
Over 50 rescue teams and 80 ambulances arrived at the mosque to begin the rescue operations.
The incident ignites questions as to whether negligence played a role in the collapse. The Grand Mosque is surrounded by dozens of cranes, and with construction booming in Saudi Arabia, many safety routines are overlooked in an attempt to expedite the process and cut costs. The Hajj, attracting at least 2 million individuals to the Grand Mosque, is set to begin in 6 days.
Construction around Mecca, focused on expanding the Grand Mosque, has become a common sight, where millions of Muslims pilgrimage every year. The construction is an attempt to make the area safer and more comfortable for travelers packing in to the city. Mecca is no stranger to deadly stampedes, with hundreds killed in stampedes in 2006, 1998 and 1990.