Binladin construction suspended over Mecca crane tragedy

Saudi King Salman halts Binladin construction group's new contracts after crane collapse tragedy which caused more than 100 pilgrims’ death and several injuries

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

At least 107 people died when a crane collapsed at Mecca's Grand Mosque

Saudi Arabia's King Salman suspended construction giant Saudi Binladin Group from new contracts on Tuesday following Friday's collapse of a crane in Mecca's Grand Mosque, which killed 107 people and injured around 400, days before the Hajj pilgrimage.

A statement by the Saudi government on Tuesday said the company's operations had been stopped until a review of all their work had been completed.

Investigators concluded that the company "was in part responsible" for Friday's crane collapse that the crane was allegedly "in a wrong position" when the high winds struck, as its main arm should have been lowered.

Saudi Press Agency said the firm's executives have been forbidden from leaving the kingdom pending the completion of legal action, adding that Salman ordered prosecutors to prepare an indictment.

Binladin construction firm which belongs to the family of the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden will also be excluded from new public projects until the investigation completed.

Group's website cited the firm, which had numerous  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, has also developed airports and other projects in the Middle East and as far afield as Malaysia.

Saudi Binladin Group had also been working for four years on the enlargement of the Grand Mosque to a multi-billion-dollar 400,000-square-metre targeting to host rising numbers of pilgrims to handle roughly 2 million people at once.

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

SPA reported Salman ordered the families of each deceased be paid $267,000 (1 million riyals) and at least $133,500 (500,000 riyals) to each injured person.

Saudi officials announced that preparations for the Hajj, one of the world's largest religious events will not be affected by the tragedy.

Crane collapse tragedy was the worst accident in a decade surrounding the Hajj, which starts next Tuesday with an estimation of drawing about 2 million pilgrims from all around the world many of whom had already converged on the Grand Mosque when the red and white crane crashed into a courtyard.

The Hajj, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been exposed to disasters in the past, mainly from stampedes as pilgrims urge to finish rituals and return home.

Hundreds of pilgrims died in such a crush in 2006.

TRTWorld and agencies