Death toll in Makkah stampede reaches 310, 450 injured

Mina: At least 310 pilgrims were killed and 450 others injured today in a stampede during the Haj at Mina, near the holy city of Makkah 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.

Officials at the Indian Consulate in Jeddah have said so far they have no information about any Indian casualty.

The Saudi civil defence authority said 310 people from different nationalities have died in the tragedy.

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.

Eyewitnesses said the stampede happened at the entrance of the Jamarat bridge near Street 204, not inside of the area where the stoning pillars are.

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 civil defence authority said its teams on the ground are leading pilgrims to safer routes away from the stampede site through alternate routes.

It said 4,000 people were taking part in rescue efforts, along with 220 ambulances.

TV footage from the incident site showed the ground strewn with injured people. Women and old men were screaming.

At least 450 pilgrims have been injured in today’s stampede.

Mina has in the past been the site of major stampedes that have killed hundreds of people.

At least 51 Indians were among 364 pilgrims killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina in 2006.

Just before the Haj this month, a massive crane collapsed in Makkah Grand Mosque, killing 115 people, including 11 Indians.

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. (PTI)