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87 dead as crane crashes into Mecca’s Grand Mosque ahead of hajj

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A massive construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque in stormy weather Friday, killing at least 87 people and injuring 184, Saudi authorities said, less than a fortnight before the hajj pilgrimage starts.

The civil defence authority said on Twitter that emergency teams were sent to the scene after a “crane fell at the Grand Mosque.”

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That came about an hour after it tweeted that Mecca was “witnessing medium to heavy rains,” with pictures circulating on social media showing lightning.

Authorities have not yet released an official account on what happened.

Pictures of the incident on Twitter showed bloodied bodies strewn across a courtyard where the top part of the crane, which appeared to have bent or snapped, had crashed into the several storey-high building.

A video on YouTube showed people screaming and scurrying around right after a massive crash was heard and as fog engulfed the city.

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The incident occurred as hundreds of thousands of Muslims gather from all over the world for the annual hajj pilgrimage expected to begin on September 21.

The Grand Mosque is usually at its most crowded on Fridays, the Muslim weekly day of prayer.

It houses the Kaaba — the massive cube-shaped structure towards which Muslims worldwide pray.

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The governor of Mecca region, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, has ordered an investigation into the incident and was heading to the mosque, the official @makkahregion page on Twitter said.

Meanwhile, online activists created a hashtag on Twitter urging Mecca residents to donate blood at hospitals in the area.

No details were immediately available on the nationalities of the victims.

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But Iran’s official IRNA news agency, quoting the head of the Hajj Organisation, said that 15 Iranian pilgrims were among those injured.

Most of them were treated as outpatients, Saeid Ohadi said.

A massive project is currently underway to expand the area of the mosque by 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet), allowing it to accommodate up to 2.2 million people at once.

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The mosque is surrounded by a number of cranes.

The hajj has largely been incident-free during the past few years, with Saudi Arabia investing billions of dollars in transport and other infrastructure to facilitate the movement of the huge numbers of people who take part.

The official SPA news agency said in a statement that by Friday, almost 800,000 pilgrims had arrived into the kingdom for hajj.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Ex-Houston cop is charged with murder after his fraudulent search warrant got a couple killed

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Former Houston police officer Gerald Goines has been indicted on felony murder charges in relation to a drug raid in January that left a couple dead, the Houston Chronicle reported this Friday.

Questions about the raid, which took place January 28, began to swirl when it was revealed that Goines had lied to obtain the search warrant. The raid resulted in a shootout that killed 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas and 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle. Goines was also wounded in the shootout as were four other officers.

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‘Making things worse’: National Farmer’s Union chief unloads on Trump in blistering statement on trade war

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Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmers Union, delivered a blistering rebuke to President Donald Trump after he responded to new tariffs from China by issuing a purported "order" telling American companies to look for alternative places to manufacture their goods.

In an official statement, Johnson pointed out that farmers so far have felt the brunt of the president's trade war, as China has slapped heavy tariffs on key agricultural products such as soybeans.

He also crushed the president for failing to make any progress on reopening the Chinese market to American goods.

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‘Pretty brutal day on Wall St’: CNN explains impact of Trump’s trade wars and Twitter tirades

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On Friday, President Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade against China.

....better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019

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