Members of a Saudi emergency crew stand near damage caused by a collapsed crane at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
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A towering construction crane toppled over on Friday during a violent rainstorm in the Saudi city of Mecca, Islam's holiest site, crashing into the Grand Mosque and killing at least 107 people ahead of the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage later this month.Images aired on Saudi state television showed the crane's metal boom smashed through what appeared to be the roof of the mosque.The Grand Mosque and the cube-shaped Kaaba within it draw Muslims of all types from around the world throughout the year, though numbers increase significantly in the run-up to the hajj. The mosque is Islam's holiest site to which Muslims face in daily prayers and a central site among the hajj rituals. Al-Mansouri said the crane, which was being used in construction work at the mosque, struck a circular area around the Kaaba and a nearby walkway.It was on Mount Arafat, marked by a white pillar, where Islam's Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of followers some 1,400 years ago, calling on Muslims to unite.The worst hajj-related tragedy was in 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims died in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Mecca.
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