At least 717 people were killed, and 863 injured, in a stampede in Mina, in Saudi Arabia, yesterday during the Islamic commemoration of Jamarat, which is the “stoning of the devil” with pebbles.
This has now brought the death toll in Saudi Arabia to 824 as 107 persons including six Nigerians died on September 11 when a huge red crane crashed into a part of the Grand Mosque — the largest in the world — that was filled with worshippers at the time.
The head of Saudi Arabia’s civil defence said strong winds and heavy rains had caused the collapse.
The Stoning of the Devil is a re-enactment of a story from the Q’uran involving the Prophet Ibrahim, which takes place during the Hajj, a few kilometers away from Mina.
Saudi emergency personnel stand near bodies of Hajj pilgrims at the site where at least 717 were killed and hundreds wounded in a stampede in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, at the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia on September 24, 2015. The stampede, the second deadly accident to strike the pilgrims this year, broke out during the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual, the Saudi civil defence service said.
Some reports say total number of casualties remained unclear as more than three million pilgrims observing this year’s hajj, who spent the night in the plain fields of Muzdalifa, began trooping to the Jamarat as early as 3 a.m. local time.
Saudi civil defence authorities confirmed the deaths on Twitter and said two medical centres had been opened to treat the injured. More than 4,000 emergency workers were sent to the scene, and hundreds of people were taken to four hospitals, the New York Times reported.
According to Vanguard, several Nigerian pilgrims also died in the stampede while officials of Nigerian delegation are already taking stock of Nigerians and will soon come out with the number and identities of those Pilgrims involved. At press time, the more 200 rescue officials were busy attending to victims as hospitals close to Jamrah were busy.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has ordered an investigation after the stampede, according to state media. Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, who chairs the Saudi Hajj committee, ordered the probe during a meeting, yesterday, with senior officials responsible for the pilgrimage in Mina, where the stampede took place.
The findings of the investigation will be submitted to King Salman, “who will take appropriate measures”, the Saudi Press agency said. The Saudi Arabian interior ministry says the crush of Muslim pilgrims appears to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.
Ministry spokesman, Major-General Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and fatigue might also have been factors in the disaster, the deadliest to afflict the Hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades. However, the head of Iran’s Hajj organisation, Said Ohadi, said that, for “unknown reasons,” two paths had been closed off near the site of a symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the stampede occurred.
“This caused this tragic incident,” he said on state television, according to the Associated Press news agency. The Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It is the journey that every able-bodied adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their lives if they can afford it.
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