Makkah crane crash operators lacked basic skills

An engineer and one of 14 defendants in the Makkah crane crash case has told the court that the operators were unqualified

The deadly crane accident in Makkah has led to a comprehensive review of crane safety in Saudi Arabia.
The deadly crane accident in Makkah has led to a comprehensive review of crane safety in Saudi Arabia.

Human error was allegedly to blame for the crane that fell and killed more than 100 people in Saudi Arabia ahead of the hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah in 2015, the Saudi Gazette has reported.

The Grand Mosque crane was operated by people who were not licensed to do so, an engineer testified in a Saudi Arabian court.

The user’s manual that explained how to operate the heavy machinery was never consulted by some of the people manning the crane, said the engineer, one of 14 defendants in the case.

“Some of them did not even know that such a book existed,” said the engineer, who was not immediately identified.

While the proceedings have been taking place in criminal court, the defendants have said the case instead belongs in the civil courts because it was an accident.

The worst punishment a civil court could levy against the defendants would be about six months in prison and a fine versus a potential life or death sentence in criminal court.

The host of charges the defendants face include, but are not limited to, the violation of safety rules, negligence and causing the death and injuries to many people.

One hundred and eleven people were killed and 260 people injured when the 1,350 tonne capacity crane came down on September 11, 2015, during the lead up to annual hajj pilgrimage to Makkah.

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