The haj, a pillar of the Muslim religion which last year drew about two million faithful, will take place despite Friday's tragedy, Saudi authorities said as crowds returned to pray a day after the incident.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had already arrived in Mecca when the massive red and white crane toppled over during a Friday thunderstorm.

"We will investigate all the reasons and afterwards declare the results to the citizens," Salman said after visiting the site, one of Islam's holiest.

Parts of the Grand Mosque remained sealed off on Saturday around the wreckage of the crane, which also injured around 200 people when it crashed into a courtyard.

Pictures of the incident on Twitter showed bloodied bodies strewn across the courtyard, where part of the crane had landed atop an ornate, arched and colonnaded section of the complex.

Irfan al-Alawi, co-founder of the Mecca-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, suggested that the authorities had been negligent by having a series of cranes overlooking the mosque.

"They do not care about the heritage, and they do not care about health and safety," he said.

Alawi is an outspoken critic of redevelopment at the Muslim holy sites, which he says is wiping away tangible links to the Prophet Mohammed.

But an engineer for the Saudi Binladin Group, the developer, said the crane had been installed in "an extremely professional way" and that there had been no technical problem.

"It was an act of God", he said.

There was little mourning among pilgrims, who snapped pictures of the collapsed metal and continued with their prayers and rituals.

"I wish I had died in the accident, as it happened at a holy hour and in a holy place," Egyptian pilgrim Mohammed Ibrahim said.

Om Salma, a Moroccan pilgrim, said "our phones have not stopped ringing since yesterday with relatives calling to check on us".

Indonesians and Indians were among those killed when the crane collapsed, while the injured included Malaysians, Egyptians, Iranians, Turks, Afghans and Pakistanis.

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