Saudi mishap: No casualty among Filipino Muslims

There were no Filipino  casualties in the crane accident Friday at the Mecca Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia ahead of the annual Hajj, Malacañang said Saturday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs’ Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah said the    Filipino Muslims in Saudi  were all safe, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said  over the state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte, nevertheless, said  the consulate general would keep an eye out for Filipinos who might be caught up in the mishap eventually to provide them necessary assistance.

Malacañang also extended its condolences to the families of the 107  who perished  while  238  sustained injuries.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia blamed tempestuous winds and heavy rains for the crane’s collapse, which tore the mosque’s ceiling, crushing  hundreds of  worshippers in the process.

As this developed, the  Department of Foreign Affairs renewed its call to all remaining Filipinos in Yemen to leave the war-torn  country, after only 21 of the more than 200 Filipinos  joined the evacuation to safety.

The DFA has issued a call for a mandatory repatriation last February, but only a few out of the more than  700 living there have been repatriated.

The security situation in the country continued to worsen as fierce fighting between Yemeni forces and rebels continued.

An Alert Level 4, or Mandatory Repatriation, remains in effect with embassy officials in Yemen appealing to Filipino citizens to pack their things and go back to the country.

Philippine Honorary Consul in Yemen Mohammad Saleh Al Jamal confirmed that only 21 have joined the evacuation efforts.

Two of them were wives of Yemeni nationals and the rest are overseas Filipino workers, he said.

The DFA  said the situation in Yemen is worsening as bomb attacks have become frequent and widespread.

But efforts at convincing Filipinos to leave Yemen continue and that evacuation and repatriation plans have been in place.

Airports in Yemen are closed and the only way out is by land transportation normally lasting 13 hours to get to Saudi Arabia. The journey to Saudi Arabia border may take more than three days.

Philippine embassy officials are in Sharurah, Najran to welcome and the Filipinos who successfully cross the border. Sharurah is one of the provinces in the Western Region of Saudi Arabia. It is approximately 1,233 kilometers away from Philippine Consulate in Jeddah. With Vito Barcelo

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