High Winds from Mecca Storm Send Crane Crashing into Mosque

  • Oct 08, 2015

A severe storm with high winds caused a construction crane to crash into the largest mosque in the world in Mecca, killing 107 and injuring 238 on 11 September 2015. This horrendous weather related tragedy happened at a very busy time: the Friday just days before the annual hajj pilgrimage. The storm first began in the region just after 1245UTC and the accident occurred at approximately 1445UTC.

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At 1204UTC, our ENcast forecasting system first detected cloud-to-ground lightning strikes 70km southeast from the city center.

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ENcast showed that the storm continued to grow in strength as it moved northwest, now producing both cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning strikes. In-cloud lightning strikes are a proven precursor to dangerous weather conditions.

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The crane fell into the side of the mosque and through the roof at approximately 1445UTC. The tragedy occurred during preparation for a Friday prayer session, one of the busiest times of the week. Prior to and at the time of the disaster, Earth Networks had detected both cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning activity in the city center.