Mecca crane collapse: India and Pakistan death toll rises

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Muslim pilgrims walk past the crane that collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca - 12 September 2015Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The crane fell through the outer ring of the Grand Mosque

The number of Indians killed in the crane collapse in the Muslim holy city of Mecca has risen to 11, India's foreign ministry has said.

Two Indians were initially counted among the more than 100 people killed in Friday's crash.

At least 11 Pakistani pilgrims have also died in the incident.

The crane crashed into the Grand Mosque, known as the Masjid al-Haram, as it was full of worshippers, almost two weeks before the Hajj pilgrimage.

The Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds Islam's holiest place, the Kaaba.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted that "after opening of mortuary" on Sunday evening "officials working with relatives have confirmed that 9 more Indians have unfortunately died".

He said the Indian "mission is extending all possible assistance to the families of the 11 deceased pilgrims to complete formalities".

At least 107 people were killed and 230 injured in the incident on Friday. It is unclear how many people were hurt by the collapse or the stampede that followed it.

The victims were also said to include worshippers from Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Egypt.

Officials say strong winds and heavy rains caused the crane to fall.

Correspondents say there had previously been concerns about safety on Saudi construction sites.

Up to two million people are expected to arrive in Mecca for the Hajj from all over the world later this month.

The original parts of the Grand Mosque date back 1,400 years. Consisting of a large square surrounded by covered prayer areas, the building has since been extensively modernised, notably from the mid-20th Century.

Saudi authorities began a major expansion of the site last year to increase the area of the mosque by 400,000 sq m (4.3m sq ft), to allow it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.

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