At least 107 people died and 238 more were injured when a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque of Mecca ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the Saudi Interior Ministry said on Friday.
The Kingdom’s General Directorate of Civil Defense blamed the accident on severe storms, according to its official Twitter.
The governor of the Makkah region, the capital of which is Mecca, Khalid al-Faisal has ordered the launch of an investigation into the causes of the accident.
The tragedy comes ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage which is due later this month. Millions of Muslims from around the world will converge on the holy city between September 21-26.
Photos taken from the scene and posted on social media show bodies lying in blood on the mosque’s floor surrounded by construction rubble and metal parts of the crane.
Over 68 emergency and rescue groups are active at the scene of the accident, the Saudi Red Crescent said on Facebook.
Director General of the Civil Defense Authority, confirmed to al-Ikhbariya television that storm winds had uprooted trees and affected cranes in the area.
“All those who were wounded and the dead have been taken to hospital. There are no casualties left at the location,” he added.