Top Iranian scientist among 107 dead in Mecca crane collapse
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Top Iranian scientist among 107 dead in Mecca crane collapse

Dr. Ahmad Hatami, board member of Iranian Space Research Center, one of 8 Iranians killed; Tehran accuses Riyadh of negligence

A pilgrim points at a crane that collapsed and killed dozens inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015.  (AP Photo)
A pilgrim points at a crane that collapsed and killed dozens inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (AP Photo)

A top Iranian scientist was among 107 people killed in the crane collapse in Mecca on Friday, according to Iranian news agency Fars.

The country’s Communications and Information Technology Minister, Mahmoud Vaezi, announced on Monday that Dr. Ahmad Hatami, a board member of the Iran Space Research Center, was among eight Iranian pilgrims who were killed in the incident.

Vaezi expressed deep sorrow over Hatami’s death and extended his condolences to his family and to the Iranian IT and space technology community, according to Fars.

Later on Monday, Fars reported, Iran’s High Council of Cultural Revolution also issued a statement confirming the scientist’s death and expressing its sadness and condolences to the community of Iranian scientists.

At least 107 people were killed and 238 more injured when a crane collapsed in the Grand Mosque during a storm.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)

The Saudi government said the crane collapsed due to strong winds. It was there as part of construction work to extend the mosque and enable it to contain more worshipers.

Some of the people killed in the disaster were buried by rubble and debris, while others were trampled by pilgrims who rushed to escape in a panic.

On Sunday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani accused the Saudi government of negligence and said Riyadh was responsible for the deadly incident.

“The Saudi government should have made the necessary preparations to safeguard the lives of the pilgrims,” Larijani said.

He asked Saudi officials to investigate the case.

The crane belonged to the Binladen Group, a construction firm founded by Osama Bin Laden’s billionaire father Mohammed. The construction conglomerate runs a large amount of major building contracts in Saudi Arabia.

Some Arab conspiracy theorists have asserted the crane collapse was an American attack, since it occurred on September 11, the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. Most of the terrorists who carried out the attack on September 11, 2001 were Saudi.

Authorities in Riyadh say the crane collapse was a devastating accident caused by the weather.

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