9 July 2013 2:41 am
Security forces are taking additional measures to control crowds and
prevent stampedes inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah during Ramadan, says
a top official.
Maj. Gen. Saad Al-Khelaiwi, commander of special forces for Umrah
security, also advised people of special needs, especially those on
wheelchairs, to avoid visits during peak hours.
Police will not allow wheelchairs to enter the mosque during peak
hours, he told a press conference. He called upon Makkah residents to
pray at other mosques to prevent congestion at the Grand Mosque.
Al-Khelaiwi said the security measures were being introduced due to
shortage of space in the mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy
Kaaba) as a result of the ongoing expansion work, which has reduced its
capacity from 48,000 to 22,000 per hour.
“When we see any potential danger as a result of congestion inside the
mosque, security forces will be instructed to divert worshippers to less
crowded areas outside the mosque,” he said.
Courtyards of the mosque’s new expansion, which can hold more than 250,000, will be utilized to accommodate more people.