Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hajj stampede death toll rises

The death toll of Hajj stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca on Thursday has risen to 769, the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years, BBC reported.

As well as the fatalities, 934 people were injured.

The incident occurred at around 6:00 GMT as millions of Muslims were travelling to Mina, a valley which is about 3 miles away from Mecca to throw stones to Jamarat pillars which represent devil which according to Islam tempted Prophet Abraham.

Security has been tightened across Mecca to prevent possible attacks by Jihadist groups and stampedes.

Social media photographs showed hundreds of white-clad bodies piled high on each other as security forces carried wounded victims, some of them crying while other chanted ‘God is great’ into ambulances.

Iran’s supreme National Security Council accused Saudi Arabia of ‘incompetence’ and urged them to ‘take responsibility’ for the deaths, according to the BBC.

The Nigerian government has also dismissed remarks by the Saudi health minister blaming pilgrims for "not following instructions".

Earlier, the country's most senior cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh, defended the authorities, saying the stampede was "beyond human control".

King Salman has ordered a safety review into the disaster.

The disaster is the second to strike in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 109 people.

Saturday was the final day of the Hajj, with no further incidents reported.

Deaths reported so far by nationality

Iran: at least 140

Morocco: 87 (media reports)

Cameroon: at least 20

Niger: at least 19

India: 18

Pakistan: 18

Egypt: 37

Chad: 11

Somalia: 8 (media reports)

Senegal: 5

Algeria: 4

Tanzania: 4

Turkey: 4

Indonesia: 3

Kenya: 3

Nigeria: 3

Netherlands: 1

Burundi: 1

Burkina Faso: 1

Other nationalities (numbers not yet known): Benin

Saudi helplines: 00966 125458000 and 00966 125496000

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