The connection between Osama bin Laden and Mecca crane collapse

Days after the collapse of a construction crane at Mecca`s Grand Mosque, which killed more than 100 people days before the haj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia`s King Salman sanctioned the powerful Saudi Binladin Group on Tuesday.

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2015, 10:41 AM IST
The connection between Osama bin Laden and Mecca crane collapse

Riyadh: Days after the collapse of a construction crane at Mecca`s Grand Mosque, which killed more than 100 people days before the haj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia`s King Salman sanctioned the powerful Saudi Binladin Group on Tuesday.

Notably, the construction firm belongs to the family of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

An investigative committee concluded that the company "was in part responsible" for Friday`s tragedy, which killed at least 107 people and injured almost 400 during a severe thunderstorm accompanied by violent winds.

Investigators found that the crane was allegedly "in a wrong position" when the high winds struck, as its main arm should have been lowered, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

"The position of the crane was in violation of operating instructions prepared by the manufacturer," SPA said, adding there had been no response to several letters from concerned authorities about that crane and others.

The firm`s executives have been forbidden from leaving the kingdom pending the completion of legal action, SPA said, adding that Salman ordered prosecutors to prepare an indictment.

Until the case is closed, the company will also be excluded from new public projects.

According to Saudi Binladin Group`s website, the company has worked on numerous prominent projects in Saudi Arabia including Al-Faisaliah tower in central Riyadh, King Abdullah Financial District, universities and the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah.

It has also developed airports and other projects in the Middle East and as far afield as Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia`s Ministry of Finance has been ordered to "urgently review all current government projects being executed by the Group and others to ensure compliance with safety procedures", SPA said.

Saudi Binladin Group had been working for four years on a multi-billion-dollar 400,000-square-metre (4.3-million-square-feet) enlargement of the Grand Mosque, to accommodate increasing numbers of pilgrims.That is the equivalent of more than 50 football pitches, and will allow the complex -- Islam`s holiest site -- to handle roughly two million people at once.

After visiting the scene on Saturday, Salman vowed that what had happened would become known.

Also Read: Saudi King vows to find cause of crane tragedy at Mecca`s Grand Mosque; toll rises to 107

It was the worst accident in a decade surrounding the haj, which begins next Tuesday and is expected to draw about two million faithful from around the world.

Hundreds of thousands had already converged on the Grand Mosque when the red and white crane, one of several overlooking the site, crashed into a courtyard.

Saudis, Iranians, Nigerians, Malaysians, Indonesians and Indians were among the dead.

Also Read: Traumatised by Mecca crane crash tragedy, pilgrims ask for accountability

Officials say the tragedy will have no effect on preparations for the haj, one of the world`s largest religious events.

An engineer with Saudi Binladin Group had told AFP on Saturday that what had happened was an "act of God" and not the result of a technical fault.

"It was not a technical issue at all," said the engineer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"I can only say that what happened was beyond the power of humans. It was an act of God and, to my knowledge, there was no human fault in it at all."

Also Read: Mecca crane collapse `act of God`: Engineer

(With AFP inputs)