Crane Crash: Consultancy Firm Issued Prior Warning

A construction crane which crashed in the Grand Mosque is pictured in Makkah on Sept. 12, 2015. — Reuters


By Adnan Al-Shabrawi

JEDDAH — An engineering consultancy company had warned of high risks due to the presence of numerous cranes in the proximity of the Grand Mosque in Makkah before the tragedy struck in September last year killing and injuring hundreds of people.

The warning was contained in the company’s technical report submitted to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) which is investigating the case. The report criticized lack of supervision to ward off any danger resulting from the operation of the crane.

The company, which was contracted by the group involved in the expansion project, termed as “serious and unacceptable” the risks posed by the giant crane.

The report also spoke about grave shortcomings in the the safety procedures adopted in the operation and maintenance of cranes and claimed that the operators were not well qualified.

The report warned that if the situation continued as it was, there was a great possibility that the crane might fall causing a catastrophe in the Grand Mosque.

“The management of risks is extremely low in the operation of the cranes,” the report said.

About 14 people are currently being tried for their possible involvement in the incident.

Last week, the BIP filed an independent lawsuit against a foreign resident who fled the Kingdom. The bureau asked the fugitive to come back for questioning.

Investigators have ruled out criminal intent, weather conditions, including lightning as reasons for the collapse of the crane. There was no evidence that the crane collapsed due to the wear and tear of its parts, the investigators said.

As part of the bureau’s investigation, testimonies of representatives of the Ministry of Finance; members of the technical committee at Umm Al-Qura University; officials of the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection; project managers at the Grand Mosque and members of the Civil Defense were taken as all these bodies were involved in one way or another in Binladin Group’s project.

The bureau investigated around 80 engineers and officials, examined over 10 reports from specialized bodies. Investigations covered all possible details, such as the angle of the arm of the crane, its ability to resist maximum wind speeds and its position at the time of falling.



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