Tuesday, September 15, 2015

No Pinoy pilgrims hurt in Mecca crane crash: consulate

Posted at 09/12/2015 11:55 AM | Updated as of 09/12/2015 8:19 PM
MANILA - The Philippine Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that there are no reports of Filipinos involved in the crane crash in Mecca's Grand Mosque that killed 107 people and wounded 238 more.
Consul General Imelda Panolong told radio dzMM that they confirmed this from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) medical team that made the rounds in hospitals around the accident site.
"So far, hanggang sa ngayon, ang balita sa atin, sa awa ng Diyos ay wala pa naman sa pilgrims natin ang na-involve doon sa insidente," Panolong said.
Many worshippers were in the Grand Mosque for Friday prayers when strong winds, rains and sand storm toppled the crane.
Panolong said they received reports that some Filipinos were among those gathered in the mosque but were situated far from accident site.
The ongoing expansion of the Grand Mosque is part of Mecca’s preparations for Islam's annual haj pilgrimage.
Around 5,800 Filipinos are currently in Mecca for the pilgrimage, while 800 more are in Medina, another Muslim holy city.
Panolong believes it is unlikely that Jeddah authorities will release an advisory discouraging participation in the pilgrimage.
She said that parts of the Grand Mosque are still open to the public although the accident site may be sealed off--in particular, the area where worshipers circle the Kaaba, the black-clad cube towards which the world's 1.6 billion Muslims face to pray.
The haj, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been prone to disasters in the past, mainly from stampedes as pilgrims rush to complete rituals and return home. Hundreds of pilgrims died in such a crush in 2006.
Saudi authorities have since spent vast sums to expand the main haj sites, improve Mecca's transport system and reduce crowd pressure which can lead to accidents. -- With a report from Reuters

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