No South African pilgrims have been reported to be injured in the crane collapse in Makkah on Friday, the South African Haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) has confirmed. There are scenes of chaos at the Haram-al-Sharif in the holy city as emergency workers clean up the aftermath of the accident, which has claimed the lives of scores of people. At least 87 people died and hundreds have been injured, with the deathtoll set to mount. Disturbing images and videos of bloodied and dead bodies have surfaced on social media.
“Alhamdullilah, according to reports from operators, at this stage no South Africans have been injured. We have asked all haj operators to do a head count and give us reassurances and will give updates as the situation changes,” Sahuc president Shaheen Essop told VOC on Friday evening.
The Saudi Gazette is reporting that authorities have closed all roads leading to Grand Mosque for vehicular traffic to facilitate rescue operation. Pilgrims continue performing tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba amid the rescue operation.
“There is a lot of chaos with ambulances and officials trying to remedy the situation,” said Essop.
South African Haj Travel Operators Association (Sathoa) chairperson Sedick Steenkamp said they had made contact with the bulk of the haj operators who have given the reassurance that their groups are fine.
Steenkamp said parts of the Haram and mataf have been cordoned so that emergency service workers and authorities can assess the damage. He urged hujjaj not to flock to the scene and give emergency workers the space to do their work.
“All praise is due to Allah (swt) for keeping our South African hujaaj safe. At the same time, we make dua that the Almighty grant all deceased Jannahtul Firdous, Ameen and put sabr in the hearts of their families and friends.”
Earlier, South Africa’s Shaykh Abdurahmaan Laily dispelled rumours of a stampede in the Haram.
“I observed Maghrib in the Haram and salaah and tawaaf continues as normal,” he said,
Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has been directed to set up of a committee to probe the Haram tragedy and present a report quickly. VOC