MAKKAH, Sept 12 : Malaysian pilgrim Mahzan Misni was metres away from the spot where a construction crane collapsed onto the Grand Mosque here on Friday, killing 107 worshippers and injuring 238 more.
“There was a very loud noise. I thought it was thunder. Then there was chaos. The ‘saie’ (prayer hall) on the first floor became dark with the dust churned up by the collapse of the crane.
“Moments later, I saw bodies sprawled all over the place. Some pilgrims were covered in blood, others had their clothes stained with the blood of the dead,” he said.
Mahzan, 49, saying he was thankful that he was safe, said he was performing the optional prayers after the Asar prayers when the accident occurred.
“I was only thinking of the safety of all my five roommates while rushing back from the mosque to our place of accommodation. Thank God, they were all there when I returned to our living quarters at the Abaj Al-Jandriah building 750 metres from the Grand Mosque,” he said.
Tabung Haji said 10 Malaysian pilgrims were injured and six had yet to be accounted for.
TH also conducted a room-to-room inspection at all the places of accommodation of Malaysian pilgrims in the holy land.
Head of the Malaysian Haj Delegation Datuk Syed Salleh Syed Abdul Rahman told a news conference at 8.45 pm (1.45 am today in Malaysia) said TH conducted a room-to-room inspection to check against the list of Malaysian pilgrims in the holy land after the Isyak prayers.
Most of the Malaysian pilgrims perform the Isyak prayers at the Grand Mosque before returning to their places of accommodation after being at the mosque from the time of the Asar or Zohor prayers.
Several other Malaysians who were at the Grand Mosque during the incident expressed shock.
Pilgrim Mohd Razak Jaid, 59, of Kepong said he was on the second floor, in the area of the saie concerned, and helped other pilgrims who were in a state of utter confusion.
“I managed to pull away a pilgrim from Thailand in the nick of time from the falling bricks and rubble after the crane collapsed. The situation became chaotic, pilgrims from the saie area were rushing out while those from outside were running in,” he said.
The police pensioner said he also saw bodies sprawled on the ground.
“I saw dead pilgrims, looked at their tags, but did not see any Malaysian tag or identification.
“The situation was really getting out of control when pilgrims started to rush to the exit. It was very sad to see bodies lying all over,” he said.
Another pilgrim, Zaiton Isa, 57, said she and her roommate at the Abraj Al-Janadriah, Zurina Zakaria, 49, were on the second floor during the incident.
“Suddenly, there was a loud bang. I thought a building had collapsed.
Pilgrims started to push their way out from the area,” said Zaiton, who was traumatised by the incident which she was at a loss to describe.
Zaiton said she was almost squashed by the crowd desperate to leave the area but was thankful that when she emerged from the mosque, roommate Zurina was right behind her.
According to the Saudi Arabian authorities, at least 107 pilgrims died and 238 were injured in the incident.
Meanwhile, Syed Saleh, who is also TH senior general manager, said other than conducting room-to-room inspections, TH also checked at the Saudi Arabian hospitals to find out if any Malaysian pilgrim had been sent there.
The crane had collapsed during heavy rain and a sandstorm in the area of the Grand Mosque, which was undergoing expansion. – Bernama