Mecca Stampede: Indian Toll Rises to 45

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Mina: The number of Indian nationals killed in a stampede at the Haj reached to 45 on Monday, said authorities, as 10 more bodies have been identified among the victims of the worst disaster to hit the pilgrimage in 25 years in Saudi Arabia.

Haj Consulate in Jeddah said the deceased included three pilgrims from West Bengal and two each from Kerala and Jharkhand and one each from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

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Earlier, 13 more bodies were identified among the dead on Sunday raising the death toll to 35. Saudi authorities have put the total death toll from the stampede during Haj to 769. The number of injured stands at 934. At least 13 Indians were among those injured.

King Salman has ordered the formation of a committee to probe the deadly incident during the five-day pilgrimage in which around two million people from over 180 countries took part. From India, 1.5 lakh pilgrims performed Haj. Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable.

The stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.

It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.

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