(WASHINGTON DC –- September 11, 2015) The Holy City of Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, was struck by tragedy earlier today when a construction accident occurred, killing 65, and injuring 80. Injury reports are still incoming. The accident occurred near the hill of Marwah, which is a part of the Hajj ceremony known as “Saee”. During Saeeh, Muslims are required to walk and/or run between the hills of Safa and Marwah, in a recreation of the story of Prophet Ismail and his mother Hajar (whom the Bible refers to as Ishmail and Hagar).
The identities and nationalities of the victims of the accident have not yet been released. Authorities believe the accident was caused by heavy rains in recent weeks. There has been no evidence of negligence or terrorist intent at the time.
Photos of the dead and injured have appeared throughout the internet, however out of respect for the injured, UMAA will not reproduce any graphic imagery.
Makkah is the site of the Islamic Holy Pilgrimage known as “Hajj”, which is set to begin in the coming days. Millions of Muslims from around the world, including an estimated 14,000 from the United States, have already begun making their way to Makkah to embark on the Hajj.
UMAA prays for the victims of this heartbreaking tragedy, and asks for swift medical attention to reach the victims, as well as for appropriate safety measures to protect those who are travelling for Hajj to the holy city.
If you need help or in the event of an emergency – In the event of a true life-or-death emergency, U.S. citizens who are travelling to Saudi Arabia may call +966(12)667-0080 ext4180 during business hours. This number is not to be used for visa inquiries, appointment requests, or other non-emergency matters. Please use the appropriate email address for all other inquiries.
After business hours, U.S. citizens in the Jeddah consular district with true emergencies should contact +966(12)667-0080 and your call will be directed to the Duty Officer.
The Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., is the point of contact for family members in the United States who are concerned about a U.S. citizen family member abroad. You can reach OCS 24 hours a day by calling 1-888-407-4747 or 1-202-501-4444.
You may also contact the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh at 011-488-3800. The U.S. Consulate General and U.S. Embassy will be closed Sunday, October 5 through Thursday, October 12 due to Columbus Day, the local holiday for Eid-al-Adha/Hajj, and the normal weekend (Friday and Saturday).
Duty Officers will be available for emergency assistance on those dates and after business hours on any other date. During regular business hours at any other time, callers should ask for the American Citizens Services Unit.
Note: When dialing the Jeddah area (includes Makkah and Taif) from the U.S., use country code 966 and city code 12. For example, dial 966-12-542-7003 for The National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims. When dialing the Riyadh area, use city code 11, e.g. 966-11-488-3800 for the U.S. Embassy.
Additionally, you may contact the Saudi department tasked with law enforcement charged with the protection of Hajj travelers, “The National Tawafa Establishment for Pilgrims of Turkey and Muslims of Europe, Americas, and Australia”, Telephone numbers from within Saudi Arabia: 012-542-7003 x101 or Mobile: 0505-608-150. Website: http://www.teaa.com.sa/
Other emergency phone numbers include:
Health Affairs: 012-530-8812
Lost Pilgrims: 012-530-8813
Traffic Accidents 993
For assistance contacting media officials or for other assistance in speaking with US Government agencies, you may also contact UMAA firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact the other offices first, as UMAA is not able to provide emergency assistance to Hajj travelers.
We hope that you will have a trouble-free Hajj like thousands of other pilgrims from the United States. However, if something does go wrong, the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah can provide you appropriate consular services:
- Arrange for replacement emergency U.S. passports and “boarding foils” for lost U.S. legal permanent resident cards. After Hajj, please bring a report from the United Agents Office or police regarding the loss and a copy of your U.S. passport or green card.
- Attempt to contact you within 24 hours of being told that you have been arrested.
- Make special arrangements in case of civil disturbances or disasters.
- Provide contact information for local lawyers and hospitals.
- Arrange for a spouse or next of kin to be told of an accident, arrest, or death, and advise them on procedures.
We cannot, however, provide the following services:
- Arrange your travel outside of the designated areas in Makkah and Madinah;
- Resolve immigration violations;
- Become involved in any disagreements, e.g. pilgrim and travel agency disputes or lost baggage;
- Rearrange airline, hotel, or other travel bookings;
- Pay for hotel, legal, medical, travel, or other bills;
- Release you from prison;
- Provide legal advice or intervene in court cases or criminal investigations;