Saudi Arabia has begun an investigation into why a crane collapsed in the Muslim holy city of Makkah, killing at least 107 people. There have been concerns about safety on Saudi construction sites in the past. The fact is that this is a busy time with the Haj pilgrimage near, and there should have been absolute security insured for the pilgrims. Reports suggest that out of the 238 injures, 47 are Pakistanis.

There are a series of cranes overlooking the mosque. Irfan al-Alawi, co-founder of the Makkah-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, compared the carnage to that caused by a bomb. He feels that the authorities are more concerned with constant expansion rather than preserving heritage, and this time it has cost lives. The Saudi government has come under constant criticism over erasing shrines and relics from Makkah over the past half century.

Currently they are undertaking a massive project to expand the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres, allowing it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once. It is also believed that because of multi-billion dollar investments, the Haj has become nearly incident-free in recent years as expansion has decreased the risk of stampedes.

Many count those who have lost their lives as martyrs, blessed that they died at one the holiest place in the world. However, this is no excuse for negligence on the part of Saudi authorities and they must not be allowed to skirt the issue with such arguments about martyrdom. Whether the incident was due to negligence or whether it was just an unforeseen accident, the loss of life is extremely sad and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the people who have lost their lives.