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Death toll in crane accident at Grand Mosque in Mecca rises to 107

Death toll in crane accident at Grand Mosque in Mecca rises to 107

Riyadh: The death toll in a crane accident at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca rose to 107 on Friday, the head of Saudi Arabia's civil defence authority told Al Ikhbariya television.

He said 200 people had been injured.

Pictures circulating on social media showed bloodied bodies strewn across a courtyard where the top part of the crane, which appeared to have collapse or snapped, had crashed into it.

It was raining heavily at the time.

The incident occurred as hundreds of thousands of Muslims gather from all over the world for the annual hajj pilgrimage set to begin later this month.

An Al Jazeera correspondent in Makkah said witnesses told him that a crane fell on the third floor of the mosque around 5.45 p.m. (local time) when it was packed even though the prayers were to begin at 6.30 p.m. Rain had also lashed the area.

The Grand Mosque is usually at its most crowded on Fridays, the Muslim weekly day of prayer.

It houses the Ka'aba -- the massive cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims worldwide pray.

A massive project is currently underway to increase the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet), allowing it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.

The mosque is surrounded by a number of cranes.

The hajj has largely been incident-free during the past few years, with Saudi Arabia investing billions of dollars in transport and other infrastructure to facilitate the movement of the huge numbers of people who take part.

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