The sight of dead bodies and injured hujjaaj in Makkah filled most social networking sights on Saturday morning. In a harrowing account of the event that transpired Friday evening after Asr salah, South African hujaaj Muahmmed Bhamjee told VOC News that his haj will now begin on a sad note after over a hundred hujaaj were left dead when a crane collapsed.
While no South Africans were among the injured or dead, Bhamjee expressed his shock when he saw a mother die before her children and a man suffer fatal lacerations to his abdomen. Images of blood covered marble flooring were retweeted and shared over a thousand times on media platforms but Bhamjee says nothing comes close to having seen the aftermath up close.
“We were in the Haram and literally five minutes after we left that particular spot we saw a sandstorm in the Haram and it was quite a sight within two three minutes we experience a sudden downpour of rain followed by a sudden boltof lightning. At the corner of my eye we see the crane falling and as soon as it hit the ground it felt like an earthquake. The loud sound triggered immediate fear. People began shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’,” Bhamjee explained.
Saudi authorities have confirmed that the crane toppled on account of the weather. The crane collapsed near Al-Salam gate on the upper side of Al-Masaa area.
Sheikh Abduragmaan Alexander, who has been leading his own group, the Al Nur Haj jamaah, says after Jumuah on Friday, the weather took a sudden turn and the city was struck with a downpour of rain, lightning and sandstorms.
“The whole situation brought me to tears to see all those people in fear. Those who passed away and who injured were all in their Ikhraam and had just performed their Umrah, reciting their Labbyk. What a beautiful ending they had,” Alexander explained as he fought through tears.
Meanwhile, Cape Town engineer Lorcan Aylward believes more precautionary measures should have been put in place to ensure the safety of hujaaj.
“They should have had a look at the weather firstly and see what would be the safest working procedure of the crane. I can’t speculate what position the crane was in but there were many things they could have done to move the crane so that it is not in a dangerous position. So that it is not standing vertically or horizontally against the wind,” Aylward added.
Since the stampede in Makkah which killed hundreds of hujaaj, Saudi authorities have spent vast sums to expand the main Hajj sites and improve Mecca’s transport system, in an effort to prevent more disasters. However, Bhamjee says in every which direction, the city of Mecca has become filled with construction sites that could pose as a danger to pilgrims.
“There is construction everywhere, the cranes do pose as a safety hazards but Allah knows best,” Bhamjee further added.
Last year, Saudi officials reduced the numbers permitted to make the Haj pilgrimage on safety grounds because of construction work to enlarge the Grand Mosque. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)