More than 717 Hajj pilgrims were killed Thursday – and at least 863 injured – in a stampede that took place near the Holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi officials.
The stampede occurred in the town of Mina, located roughly five kilometers east of Mecca, shortly after pilgrims had performed a ritual in which they threw stones at a structure representing the devil.
Speaking to an Anadolu Agency correspondent, Saudi officials said the crush had happened after hundreds of pilgrims converged on a single escalator.
Saudi Minister of Health Khalid Al-Falih said in a press statement that many pilgrims reverse the direction of the routes. Also, they come out of their tents at time not specified for leaving the camps.
The Civil Defense spokesman said that the stampede occurred at 9 a.m. on Thursday (Dhul Hijja 10) when two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads on their way to performing the stoning of Jamrat ul-Aqaba in Mina.
Meanwhile, the paramedic teams of the Saudi Air Ambulance embarked on the evacuation of the inpatients in the public hospitals in Mina and transferring them to other hospitals outside the boundaries of the holy sites.
On Thursday evening, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz – who also serves as deputy premier, interior minister and chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Higher Committee – met with security officials to discuss the deadly stampede, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
At the meeting, the news agency reported, the crown prince had ordered the formation of a fact-finding committee tasked with investigating the accident’s causes, the findings of which will be referred to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Pakistan expresses condolence over tragic Hajj stampede incident
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad dismiss of the pilgrims who embraced shahdat and sustain injuries in a stampede at Mina.
The PM Nawaz Sharif has prayed for eternal peace and bliss for the departed souls and commiserated with the bereaved families.
PM Nawaz Sharif has directed the Pakistan s Ambassador in Saudi Arabia to visit the injured at the hospitals and provide facilitations to the injured and the martyred as much as possible.
Turkey expresses condolence over Hajj tragedy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, has expressed his condolences to the families of slain pilgrims. “I ask Allah to show mercy on all the Muslim brothers and sisters killed in the accident,” Erdogan said.
US expresses condolence over Hajj stampede
The United States issued its condolences for a “heartbreaking” stampede near Mecca that claimed the lives of more than 700 pilgrims Thursday.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the U.S.’s thoughts are with the victims’ families “and the more than 2 million people undertaking the Hajj this year."
“As Muslims around the world continue to celebrate Eid al-Adha, we join you in mourning the tragic loss of these faithful pilgrims,” he added.
UK's Cameron expresses sorrow over Hajj tragedy
British Prime Minister David Cameron has offered his condolences to the families of more than 700 people killed in a stampede in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed at the Hajj pilgrimage," Cameron said on an official social media account.
British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond also expressed his sadness in a statement.
"I was saddened to hear of the enormous loss of life in Mecca. My thoughts are with families and victims at this difficult time," Hammond said in a government statement.
According to Saudi figures, some 2 million Muslims from around the world are participating in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
Thursday’s deadly stampede comes two weeks after 107 people were killed when a crane collapsed in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, which had been teeming with worshippers at the time of the accident.. Tags: #
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