Couple from Andhra killed in Makkah mosque accident

Hyderabad: Two Haj pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh were among 107 killed in the crane accident at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi Arabian holy city of Makkah, an official said here on Sunday.

The deceased couple has been identified as Abdul Khader (38) and his wife Fatima Begum (32).

Telangana State Haj Committee's special officer S. A. Shukoor told IANS that the couple hailing from Krishna district in coastal Andhra Pradesh were missing since the accident on Friday evening.

The officer said he spoke to the Indian consul general in Jeddah, who confirmed on Sunday that the couple died in the accident.

The bodies were kept in Mina Hospital and they were identified on Sunday with the help of Abdul Muqeet, a relative of the deceased who lives in Saudi Arabia.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock over the death of the couple and conveyed his heartfelt condolences to their family.

The couple has two sons aged six and three years. They had left behind the children with their relatives in Machilipatnam town in Krishna district.

The couple staying in one of the buildings at Azizia near the Grand Mosque had gone for 'tawaf' (circumambulation) of Kaaba on Friday when the huge crane fell at the mosque.

When they did not return till Saturday morning, their relatives informed the Haj Committee officials, who in turn alerted authorities at India's Haj Mission.

Officials said since most of the victims were crushed under the debris, it might have taken a long time for the identification of the deceased.

This has taken to four the number of Indian pilgrims killed in the accident. The officials had earlier announced that a pilgrim each from Kerala and West Bengal died in the tragedy.

A total of 19 Indians were among 238 injured. The injured include three from Hyderabad.

Sukoor said two of the injured were discharged from the hospital while the third one is still hospitalised but his condition is stated to be stable. Only two were reported missing after the tragedy and all other pilgrims from both Telugu states are safe.

A 63-year-old pilgrim Sheikh Ahmed Ali from Nizamabad district of Telangana died of cardiac arrest late on Saturday.

A total of 5,436 pilgrims left from Hyderabad embarkation point. They include 2,963 from Telangana, 1,819 from Andhra Pradesh and 654 from Karnataka.

Over 136,000 pilgrims from India will be performing Haj this year. The Haj rituals will begin on September 21.

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