Haj Stampede: Toll Crosses 700, Indian Among Dead


Update: The death toll in the Mecca stampede has surpassed 700. A woman from Telangana is among the Haj pilgrims killed in a stampede in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. An official of the Telangana State Haj Committee said that the deceased had been identified as Bibi Jaan, a resident of Ranga Reddy district near Hyderabad.

As per latest information, officials at the Indian Consulate in Jeddah say two Indian pilgrims from Assam were injured in the tragedy.

Update: As fresh reports are pouring in, the death toll has crossed 400 with authorities fearing further rise, reported Saudi Gazette. Emergency helpline numbers for Indians in Mecca for Haj updates in Indian Consulate: 00966125458000, 00966125496000. Despite the crisis the pilgrimage will continue.

Mecca: A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season has killed at least 250 people and left 450 others wounded. The stampede occurred during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca. Hundreds have been killed in past years during the same ceremony.

“We have a stampede accident in Mina and civil defense is dealing with it,” Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said. Officials deployed 4,000 workers and 220 ambulances and other vehicles to Mina to help with the disaster. In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars, in a re-enactment of an event when Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions.

The ceremony was the scene of stampedes and hundreds of deaths in the 1980s and 1990s as pilgrims passed a crowded bottleneck area leading to the small pillars on the ground. In 2006, a stampede there killed at least 363 people. After that, the Saudi government erected three massive pillars and completed a $1.2 billion, five-story bridge nearby where pilgrims can toss stones. It was meant to be a roomier atmosphere and more efficient way to accommodate the faithful.

Source: CNN

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