President Tony Tan expresses condolences to Saudi Arabia's King Salman over crane collapse

Muslim pilgrims take pictures of the crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on Sept 12, 2015.
Muslim pilgrims take pictures of the crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on Sept 12, 2015.PHOTO: AFP
Muslim pilgrims walk in front of construction cranes as they arrived in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca to perform the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage on Sept 12, 2015, a day after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque.
Muslim pilgrims walk in front of construction cranes as they arrived in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca to perform the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage on Sept 12, 2015, a day after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque.PHOTO: AFP
Muslim pilgrims walk past the crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on Sept 12, 2015.
Muslim pilgrims walk past the crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on Sept 12, 2015.PHOTO: AFP
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency on Sept 12, 2015, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (centre) visiting a wounded woman at a hospital in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca.
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency on Sept 12, 2015, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (centre) visiting a wounded woman at a hospital in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - President Tony Tan Keng Yam has written to Saudi King Salman to convey his "deepest and heartfelt" condolences on the crane collapse at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Sunday (Sept 13).

"I am greatly saddened to learn of the tragic loss of lives and injuries to pilgrims caused by the crane accident at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on 11 September 2015," Dr Tan said in a letter dated Sept 12, according to MFA.

"I am fully confident that the Saudi hajj authorities will overcome this tragedy and do its best to ensure the safety of the millions of pilgrims who are visiting Makkah for the annual hajj pilgrimage," Dr Tan added.

King Salman vowed on Saturday to find out what caused the accident that killed 107 people, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

The hajj, a pillar of the Muslim religion which last year drew about two million faithful, will take place despite last Friday's tragedy, Saudi authorities said as crowds returned to pray a day after the incident.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had already arrived in Mecca when the massive red and white crane toppled over during a Friday thunderstorm.

"We will investigate all the reasons and afterwards declare the results to the citizens," Salman said after visiting the site, one of Islam's holiest.

Parts of the Grand Mosque remained sealed off on Saturday around the wreckage of the crane, which also injured around 200 people when it crashed into a courtyard.

But there was little mourning among pilgrims, who snapped pictures of the collapsed metal and continued with their prayers and rituals.

"I wish I had died in the accident, as it happened at a holy hour and in a holy place," Egyptian pilgrim Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP.

Om Salma, a Moroccan pilgrim, said "our phones have not stopped ringing since yesterday with relatives calling to check on us".

Indonesians and Indians were among those killed when the crane collapsed, while the injured included Malaysians, Egyptians, Iranians, Turks, Afghans and Pakistanis.

Salman expressed his condolences to the families of the dead, and then visited a local hospital "to check on the health of the injured", the official Saudi Press Agency said.

"Suddenly, I heard thunder and then we heard a very loud noise. That was the sound of the crane falling," Mohammed, a Moroccan pilgrim, told AFP.

Another visitor caught up in the tragedy, Ahmed from Egypt, said he and those around him were "very scared, hysterical even".

A Saudi official said the hajj, expected to start on Sept 21, would go ahead despite the tragedy.