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87 pilgrims killed after crane falls in city of Mecca

By Staff Reporter

At least 87 people have been killed and 184 injured after a crane collapsed on the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, according to Saudi Arabia's civil defence authority.

The accident happened as pilgrims were streaming into Islam's holiest city for the annual hajj pilgrimage this month.

Videos and photos posted by social media users showed a grim scene, with police and onlookers attending to bloodied bodies on the polished mosque floors.

The crane's collapse came during a heavy rainstorm.

A photo posted online by Saudi officials showed police and workers in hard hats inspecting a pile of collapsed concrete slabs inside a part of the sprawling, ornately decorated mosque.

The Grand Mosque and the cube-shaped Kaaba within it draw Muslims from around the world throughout the year, though numbers increase significantly in the run-up to the hajj.

Performing the pilgrimage once during one's lifetime is a duty for all able-bodied Muslims.

Television footage from inside the mosque compound said to be from the aftermath of the accident showed the floor strewn with rubble and what appeared to be pools of blood.

Several cranes surround the mosque to support an ongoing expansion and other construction work that has transformed the area around the sanctuary. .

Another video on Twitter captured the apparent moment of the crane's collapse with a loud boom, screams and confusion.

The authority announced the collapse and the casualty numbers through its official Twitter account.

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