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Travel ban on Saudi Binladin group after Mecca crane collapse

Saudi Binladin Group have denied blame for crash which killed more than 100 pilgrims on Friday
Muslim pilgrims walk past the crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca (AFP)

Saudi Arabia’s royal court has announced that the Saudi Binladin Group will receive no further projects in the country following a crane collapse on Friday that killed more than 100 people in Mecca.

They also imposed a travel ban on members of the Saudi Binladin Group, a multinational construction conglomerate, pending further investigation.

The court added that the families of those killed would receive one million riyals in compensation.

The crane collapsed following heavy winds and killed 107 pilgrims as they travelled to the holy site of the Kabbah for the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The Saudi Binladin group denied that the crane had been badly constructed or operated.

An engineer was quoted in the Times of India as saying the crane was operated in "an extremely professional way" and that the accident had been “an act of God".

The Saudi Binladin group have overseen a $27bn government-backed redevelopment of Mecca which includes the creation of new housing, a ring road, parking lots and a new metro system.

Critics have said that the redevelopment is destroying Saudi Arabia’s cultural history and has increased the risk to pilgrims.

“Every two years, they have a new plan that is nothing to do with the previous plan,” said one activist, quoted anonymously by the Guardian.

“So they have to destroy a bit of the past. That is why the people of Mecca and hajjees [pilgrims] have been suffering for the last 15 years.”

The Bin Laden family, who own the Saudi Binladin group, became internationally renowned following the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, which was masterminded by renegade son Osama Bin Laden.

Members of the family have long sought to distance themselves from Osama and his actions.

King Salman, who was visiting victims of the crane collapse on Tuesday, has promised to get to the bottom of the incident.

"We will investigate all the reasons and afterwards declare the results to the citizens,” he said on Monday while expressing his condolences to the families of the dead.

Three members of the Bin Laden family were killed in a plane crash in the UK on 31 July. A Embraer Phenom 300 jet flying from Italy was attempting to land at Blackbushe airport in Hampshire when it overshot the runway and crashed into parked cars. 

Among those killed were Rajaa Hashim, Osama Bin Laden’s stepmother, his half-sister Sana bin Laden, and her husband Zuhair Hashim.  

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