JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered massive payouts for the families of those killed and injured in last week’s crane crash tragedy, which claimed the lives of 111 people and injured over 238.
In a royal decree on Tuesday, the king announced that there would be SR1 million paid to each victim’s family, SR1 million to those whose injuries resulted in permanent disability, and SR500,000 for each of the injured, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The king stated that these payments would not exclude the families of the deceased, and the injured, from launching lawsuits through the courts for compensation.
He also announced that the Kingdom would host two family members of those who died, for next year’s Haj. Those who were injured and cannot complete their rituals this year would be able to return next year as the king’s guests. The family members of the injured in hospitals for treatment would be granted visit visas to remain in the Kingdom.
The king also reviewed the report of the committee investigating the incident, which concluded that the crane was blown over by strong winds on Friday while the machine was in an incorrect position.
The king ordered that the report be sent to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution for further investigations into the procedures adopted by the Saudi Binladin Group.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Consul General Aftab A. Khokher has welcomed the king’s gesture. “This once again proves King Salman’s kindness and care for the Ummah,” he said. “Although nothing can compensate for the loss of life, this will bring huge comfort to the families of those who lost their loved ones.”
Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, the Makkah-based director general of Haj in Pakistan, said: “My salute to the benevolent king for making this large-hearted announcement. He is a true leader of the Muslim world.” Akif said Friday’s deceased were martyrs, and the compensation would provide good support for their families.
Some 11 Pakistanis died in the crash and 14 were injured. At the current exchange rate, the compensation for each Pakistani martyr will come to 27 million Pakistani rupees.
Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak described the king’s compensation as unparalleled. “It is a great gesture on the part of the king and will help alleviate the suffering of the families and relatives of those who died,” he said.
He said other than the monetary compensation, King Salman’s announcement of inviting two relatives of each of the martyrs for Haj next year was “a very thoughtful gesture.”
In India, SR1 million equals 17 million rupees. There were 11 Indians who lost their lives in the crash and 19 were among the injured. Two are still missing, according to Mubarak.
A well-known American radio broadcaster of Pakistani origin, Qamar Abbas Jafri, who performed Haj in 2013, described the king’s announcement as unprecedented. “In my 50-year journalistic career, I have not heard of any Muslim leader announcing such a healthy compensation,” he told Arab News from Washington.
“When I saw the photos of the king in the Washington papers visiting the injured and personally meeting them in Makkah hospitals, I was very impressed. In the countries where we come from, such as India and Pakistan, leaders do not even care to visit the site of accidents. They only issue sterile statements.”
Jafri said the compensation reinforces the image of King Salman as “the king of kings.”
Rashid Mogradia, chief executive officer of the London-based Council of British Hajis, said: “It shows the generous nature of the Saudis and that of King Salman in assisting all those who were affected by the tragic accident.” The speed and transparency with which the inquiry was conducted and the guilty were named demonstrates King Salman’s utmost concern and care for the guests of Allah, he said.
Two Britons were among the 111 dead.
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