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Mosque Minaret Collapses in Morocco, Killing 41

Residents of the Tizimi neighborhood in Meknes' old quarter carry from the morgue a victim of the collapse of a historic minaret, February 20, 2010

Morocco's King Mohammed has ordered an urgent appraisal of the nation's historic mosques, one day after a minaret on one of the ancient holy buildings collapsed, killing 41 people.

In a statement Saturday, the king called on officials to assemble a team of experts to assess the safety of the mosques. He also ordered the collapsed minaret to be rebuilt.

Rescue crews say they have recovered all the victims from the accident at the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque in the historic city of Meknes, some 130 kilometers from Rabat.

The minaret collapsed during Friday prayers as the mosque was packed with worshippers. At least 76 people were injured. Authorities have blamed the minaret's collapse on heavy rainfall in recent days.

Local officials say the rescue operation went slowly because the mosque, which was built four centuries ago, is located in a heavily congested area of the Old City.

Some local residents say officials have ignored complaints that many of the older mosques are badly in need of repair and are unsafe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.