An inside look: Stampede survivors recount the disaster
"Some pilgrims got hysteric," one pilgrim recounted. (AFP/File)
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Clearly shaken and distressed survivors of Thursday's Mina stampede recounted how the mishap started and how hundreds of women, children and the elderly were caught up in the catastrophic situation.
Anwar Mahmoud, an Egyptian, said thousands of pilgrims were waiting near their camps to get out and walk to Al-Jamarat Bridge. In a matter of minutes, the number had increased and women and elderly started to fall over to the street because of the heat of the sun, he added, blaming the wheelchairs for making people trip.
Umm Hussain, also from Egypt, said she was close to the stampede and witnessed a large number of pilgrims push and shove until they closed off one of the roads.
“Each one from each direction was trying to get to the other side. I heard many shouting and asking pilgrims to stop pushing and shoving one another. We were stuck in the same spot for 30 minutes. Many of the pilgrims collapsed unable to bear the sweltering sun,” she said.
Muhammad Othman, from Ethiopia, blamed lack of coordination among the heads of camps for the accident. Unfortunately, the majority of pilgrims want to throw pebbles in a short time and this causes accidents.
Muhammad Salim, An Arab pilgrim, said he saw a sea of people from both sides trying to storm their way into one another. Pilgrims were coming from Al-Jamarat Bridge and pilgrims were going there. The elderly could not bear the pressure and fell over to the ground and were trampled on. “It was a tragic accident with elderly and women crying and shouting for help. Some pilgrims got hysteric,” he said.
Muhammad Abdul Haq, an Asian worker, was at the camp when he heared the cries for help from the other street. He rushed there to find thousands of pilgrims got stuck in a narrow area. He could not do anything to help while people were falling over everywhere.
Meanwhile, the Passports Department teams are working on identifying the dead, according to Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director of the department.