Mina | As much as 717 people were killed and nearly 800 others injured today in a stampede during the Haj at Mina, near the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, one of the worst incidents in nearly a decade to hit the annual pilgrimage. Over two million pilgrims, including more than 1.5 lakh Indians, are performing the Haj this year.
The Saudi civil defence authority said rescue operations were underway after the stampede in Mina, where pilgrims were performing the symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at the three pillars. The number of death rose to 717, it said, adding that 800 others were injured. Two teams of medical screening have been set up at the site of the incident. It was not clear what had caused the stampede.
In my camp there were about 400 pilgrims. All of them are safe. But I am trying to make some calls and ascertain from other people, said Abid Rasool Khan, Chairman Minorities Panel, Andhra Pradesh. The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable. At least 364 pilgrims were killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina in 2006.
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