Riyadh: At least 87 people were killed after a crane collapsed on to the Grand Mosque in the Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca, which is preparing for the Annual Haj pilgrimage, authorities said.
154 people were also injured in the accident, stated the civil defence on its twitter account. Among them 9 are Indians.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: “We have received reports that 9 Indian pilgrims are injured.”
Swarup added that the Indian consulate in Jeddah is “monitoring the situation in Makkah following the tragic accident”.
Senior officers including the Indian consul-general “are on the ground in Makkah. Indian doctors are deployed in all government hospitals and ascertaining more information”, another tweet by Swarup added.
Al Arabiya television reported the cause of the crane falling to be strong sand storms which have been hitting western Saudi Arabia since the past few days.
Images on social media appear to show part of a huge crane crashed through the mosque roof. After the conclusion of the current and final expansion, the mosque could accommodate more than three million worshipers in one hour.
Mecca, the holiest city for Islam, is preparing for the annual Haj, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, for which thousands of Muslims are expected to arrive from all over the world later in September.
These gatherings of millions often lead to stampedes, fires or other hazards. Saudi authorities have spent vast sums to ensure better safety and transportation, and prevent disasters.
Barbara Bush, the matriarch of a Republican political dynasty and a former First Lady who elevated the cause of literacy, has died at the age of 92, media reports said.
“A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92,” family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.
Barbara Bush is survived by her husband former President George H.W. Bush; sons George W., Neil, Marvin and Jeb; daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch; and 17 grandchildren.
On Sunday, her husband’s office issued a statement saying that after consulting the family and her doctors, Barbara Bush had “decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care”, reports The New York Times.
The Bushes had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January, making them the longest-married couple in presidential history.
Only the second woman in American history to have had a husband and a son elected President (Abigail Adams was the first), Barbara Bush was seen as a plainspoken public figure who was instantly recognisable with her signature white hair and pearl necklaces and earrings, reports CNN.
She became a major political figure as her husband rose to become first a Vice President (January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989) and then the 41st US President (January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993).
He left office in 1993 after losing a re-election bid to Bill Clinton.
After they left the White House, she was a potent spokeswoman for two of her sons — George W. and Jeb — as they campaigned for office.
The mother of six children — one of whom, a daughter, Robin, died as a child from leukemia — Barbara Bush raised her fast-growing family in the 1950s and ’60s amid the post-war boom of Texas and the whirl of politics that consumed her husband.
Barbara Pierce was born on June 8, 1925, in New York and raised in the upscale town of Rye, CNN reported.
She attended a prestigious boarding school in South Carolina, where she met her future husband at a school dance when she was only 16 and he was a year older.
A year and a half and countless love letters later, the two were engaged just before George H. W. Bush enlisted in the Navy and went off to fight in the World War II.
Barbara Bush adopted literacy as a cause, raising awareness and eventually launching the non-profit Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.