Death Toll Hits 40 as Muslims ‘Stone the Devil’ on Final Day of Hajj
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims "stoned the devil" for a third day on Wednesday, the close of the Hajj pilgrimage, as the death toll from a stampede during the ritual rose to 40, said AFP.
"The number of pilgrims killed in the incident was around 40," Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz was quoted as telling Okaz newspaper.
Health Minister Osama bin Abdul Majid Shobopkchi said most of the victims of Monday's stampede at Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca, were from Asian countries, Egypt and Turkey.
Out of a total of 168 pilgrims injured in the stampede, 25 were still in hospital with fractures and bruising, the health minister told Al-Watan newspaper.
The official death toll stood at 35, including 23 women, on the day of the tragedy when pilgrims were trampled to death as a huge crowd surged forward on Mina's Jamarat bridge to stone three pillars symbolizing the devil.
Seven Pakistanis, five Turks, four Indonesians, four Egyptians and two Indians were among the dead, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
BBC quoted Prince Nayef as saying that “both the Saudi authorities and foreign groups in charge of organizing pilgrims bore responsibility.”
But he also blamed the pilgrims themselves and urged them to show tolerance towards each other when performing rituals, said the news service.
He hoped to prevent such incidents in the future by providing better information for pilgrims before their arrival in the country.
Around 1.8 million Muslims from 160 countries took part in the stoning ritual for a final day in Mina ahead of prayers at the Grand Mosque. Most of the pilgrims were set to complete the Hajj later Wednesday.
Saudi authorities have deployed around 2,000 policemen on and around the bridge leading to the Mina pillars to try to prevent a repeat of the stampede, while helicopters hovered overhead to keep a watch on the vast crowds, said AFP.
Meanwhile, SPA reported that the kingdom has announced the “safety and the cleanness of Hajj season.”
“There have been no epidemic and quarantine diseases. The health of pilgrims has been satisfactory,” Shobopkchi was quoted as saying in a statement – Albawaba.com
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