TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, in a message relayed by his chief of staff Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, offered condolences over the deaths of a number of Iranian pilgrims in the collapse of a crane in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca.
The Leader’s chief of staff, on behalf of Ayatollah Khamenei, had a telephone conversation with Hojatoleslam Qaziasgar, the head of Iran’s Hajj Mission in Saudi Arabia, on Sunday.
Hojatoleslam Qaziasgar updated him on the latest death toll, the status of those injured in the deadly incident and the process of medical treatment.
On Friday evening, a large construction crane toppled over during a violent rainstorm and crashed into Mecca’s Masjid al-Haram (the Grand Mosque), killing at least 107 pilgrims and wounding 238 others.
Five Iranian nationals were among the dead and dozens of other Iranian pilgrims were injured.
An official at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said seven other pilgrims are still missing following the crash.
The crane fell 10 days before the start of the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage expected to bring 2 million people to Mecca.
Masjid al-Haram is the world’s largest mosque and houses the Kaaba, the black cube that Muslims around the world pray toward and which they walk around during the pilgrimage.
The Saudi government is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar project to enlarge the mosque, and the site is currently ringed with cranes.
Large-scale deadly accidents during hajj have occurred on a number of occasions in years past.
In 2006, more than 360 pilgrims died in a stampede at the desert plain of Mina, near Mecca. A crush of pilgrims two years earlier left 244 dead.
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.