Saudi Arabia partly blames company in crane deaths
Jiddah, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in part blamed the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group for the collapse of a crane at Mecca last week that killed at least 111 people and injured over 390 ahead of the hajj.
The crash came just days before millions arrive in the kingdom for the pilgrimage, which is required at least once in the life of every able-bodied Muslim.
Friday’s collapse came amid high winds and a rainstorm, but a royal decree from King Salman said the Binladin Group should not have left the crane’s arm up when it was not in use.
An Arabic version of the decree, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, said the Binladin Group was partly to blame for the collapse. The news agency’s English service did not report that detail, but did say leaders of the company have been banned from travelling abroad.
The Binladin Group has not released any statements about the crane collapse and its representatives have not been made available for comment. The royal decree also blamed the group for not using up-to-date safety measures and failing to coordinate with meteorlogical officials.
Dozens of cranes surround Mecca’s Grand Mosque, part of the massive construction effort headed by the Binladin Group. The Binladin family has been close to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family for decades and runs major building projects. Al-Qaida’s late leader Osama bin Laden was a renegade son disowned by the family in the 1990s.
Salman also ordered 1 million riyals ($267,000) be paid to the relatives of those killed, and the same amount to those permanently injured. Others injured will receive half that amount.
The Health Ministry said Sunday that 394 people were treated after the collapse, and 158 remain hospitalized.