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Pained and grief-stricken, but Hajis undeterred by Makkah Grand Mosque tragedy
Sunday September 13, 2015 11:42 AM, & Agencies

Though pained, anguished and grief-stricken, hundreds of thousands of Haj pilgrims from across the world offered Maghreb prayers at the Makkah Grand Mosque with complete faith and submission barely few minutes after the crane accident inside the holiest site of the Muslim world sent shock waves across the globe on Friday.

According to officials, despite the crane crash prior to the Maghreb prayer time, the incident did not stop visitors of the Grand Mosque to perform the Maghreb prayer and the Isha prayer afterward.

"This clearly indicates that the crane incident will not deter the Hajis from performing their rituals", the official added.

At least 107 people were killed and 238 injured after a crane collapsed on to the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Friday just little before the Maghreb prayers. The tragic incident followed thunderstorm and heaviest rains in decades in the holy city.

According to the Al Jazeera correspondent in Makkah the crane fell on the third floor of the mosque around 5.45 p.m. (local time) when it was packed even though the Maghreb prayers were to begin at 6.30 p.m.

"I saw Hajis praising the Almighty Allah and seeking forgiveness for those who were killed in the accident. With prayers on their lips, they lined up for the Maghreb prayers with renewed faith and submission minutes after the crane tragedy", Ishtiyaq Ahmed, a Haji from Malegaon, said while talking to on phone.

Ishtiyaq was one of the 223 Hajis from Mumbai who had reached Makkah on Friday afternoon.

He said though the officials were providing the needed help and relief to the victims, Hajis were seen helping the injured with whatever resources they had.

"There was no panic, no stampede after the accident. The only thing in the minds of those present inside the Grand Mosque was to provide medical and other aid to those affected", he said.

Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak, who has been camping in Makkah to look after Indian pilgrims for the past week, said pilgrims inside the mosque were busy in prayers.

“There is no panic at all,” he said. He said a crane came crashing down just before Maghreb. “Part of it fell into the mataf area,” he said.

“When I went in there were shards of glass and pieces of concrete in one particular area", he added.

Mubarak said the Saudi authorities quickly took control of the situation.

“They closed some entry points into the Grand Mosque, but many gates remained open.I prayed Isha at the Grand Mosque and everything was normal", he said.

The Friday night also saw a large number of Makkah residents, especially youths, swarming hospitals to donate blood for those injured in the Grand Mosque crane tragedy. Many also used social media to encourage other people to donate blood for the victims.

According to a rough estimate, more than 03 lakh Haj pilgrims were inside the Makkah Grand Mosque when the crane played havoc. Any kind of panic or stampede post the accident would have resulted in unbelievable number of casualties.

Meanwhile, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman visited the Grand Mosque on Saturday and inspected the damage caused by the crane crash. He later visited the injured at Al-Noor Specialist Hospital.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal gave the authorities concerned two days to repair the areas damaged by the crane fall.

Prince Khaled assured the pilgrims that their injuries will not prevent them from completing the Haj rituals and that the government will help their movement in the holy sites in well-equipped cars.

The deadline for the repair works falls on Monday, the first day of the month of Dhul Hijjah and the last for reception of Hajis from outside the Kingdom, whose number is touching one million, based on the latest data released by Saudi Press Agency.

Health officials in Makkah said 95 of those injured in the accident have already been discharged from hospitals, adding that 110 people were still receiving treatment.

The Health Affairs has recruited 36 medical teams and supported emergency departments with medical and technical cadres by recalling a number of support medical teams from Jeddah and Taif to provide emergency care at Ajiad Hospital.

The tragic incident saw condolence messages pouring in from across the world.

"I am deeply saddened to learn about the accident at the Grand Mosque. I join the people of India in conveying my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons", Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari said in his message.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his message said, "My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the crane crash in Makkah. I wish the injured a quick recovery."

OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani in his message said, "My condolences to the families of the victims. I am praying to God Almighty to grant His Mercy on the deceased and grant the injured speed recovery."

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in his condolence message said, "We pray that the pilgrims who were injured return home safely, and for the others, to complete their pilgrimage and return home to their families. My condolences to the families of those killed."

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