Pilgrims’ safety a priority, says Saudi Arabia

MAKKAH: The safety of Haj pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia is a priority, the crown prince said on Friday, assuring that a deadly crane accident at Islam’s holiest site will not affect this year’s Haj.


Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was referring to a tragedy a week ago, when a massive crane being used in work on an expansion of Grand Mosque toppled into a courtyard, killing 108 people. Another 402 people were injured.

Prince Mohammed, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency, said the kingdom always “takes into consideration the safety of pilgrims as a priority”.

The incident has been dealt with “in record time with the directives issued by King Salman and has no more effect whatsoever on the Haj plans for this year”.

The prince, who is also interior minister, on Thursday reviewed a parade and drill by security officers demonstrating their readiness to protect the Haj from attacks or accidents.

On Tuesday, King Salman sanctioned the contractor, Saudi Bin ladin Group, after he reviewed an investigative committee’s findings that the firm was “in part responsible” for the crane collapse during severe winds.

He ordered prosecutors to prepare an indictment, excluded the company from new public projects and forbade its executives from leaving the country pending the completion of legal action.

Saudis, Iranians, Nige¬rians, Malaysians, Indone¬sians and Indians died in what was the worst Haj-related accident in years.