Eighteen S92 and Black Hawk (S70A) helicopters will be monitoring the movement of pilgrims at the holy sites, according to the commander of security aircraft.
“All helicopters have been put on alert and all helipads in Makkah and the holy sites have been tested,” Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Harbi said.
The helicopters will be flying over Arafat, Muzdalifah, and the Jamarat Bridge during Haj while at the same time transmit live photographs to the operations center in order to respond to any emergency properly. The helicopters will be supported by security officers on the ground at these sites as well.
Currently, the helicopters take off on short flights on a daily basis and monitor all the roads to and from Mina.
The goal is to prevent any stampedes or traffic congestion during the peak hours of Haj.
There are thermal cameras and night-vision equipment installed in the helicopters to facilitate their missions at night.
Al-Harbi said all captains are capable of responding to accidents that happen in high places in Makkah.
“The captains can fly as high as 3,000 feet over these places and handle any incident professionally.”
They can also respond to fire accidents and rescue injured victims within a short time.
Okaz flew on board one of the aircraft that took off Wednesday on a short flight over the holy sites. It was noticed that all the roads at the holy sites and inside Makkah are manned by security officers while all lanes and pathways have been rearranged to facilitate the movement of buses and pilgrims.
At the holy sites, especially Mina, the scene was similar to a beehive with various government personnel working non-stop to prepare the place for pilgrims.