High Winds from Mecca Storm Send Crane Crashing into Mosque
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.
At 1204UTC, our ENcast forecasting system first detected cloud-to-ground lightning strikes 70km southeast from the city center.
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.
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.