Haj stampede death toll may exceed 1,000

Pakistani and Indian officials say foreign diplomats have been issued with photographs for identification purposes
Haj stampede death toll may exceed 1,000
(AFP/Getty Images)
By Staff writer
Tue 29 Sep 2015 11:16 AM

The
death toll from last week’s haj stampede may exceed 1,000, based on the number
of photographs Saudi Arabia has reportedly issued to foreign diplomats for
identification.

The Associated Press (AP) news agency
reported that Indian and Pakistani authorities have been given around 1,100
photographs of people who died in the haj crush at Mina, outside the Muslim
holy city of Makkah.

According
to official figures released at the weekend by the Saudi Ministry of Health, 769
pilgrims were killed, with a further 934 injured in the disaster.

However, officials
in India and Pakistan, have claimed Saudi officials have issued
photographs for identification purposes far exceeding that number.

Pakistani
MP Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said that foreign diplomats were given “1,100 photos”
of the dead, which could be viewed at Saudi embassies abroad.

“This is
the official figure of martyrs from Saudi officials, given for the
identification process,” he told AP.

This
figure was more or less confirmed by Sushma Swaraj, India’s external affairs
minister, in the tweet below.

 

Last
Thursday’s stampede was the worst disaster to strike the annual haj pilgrimage
since July 1990, when 1,426
pilgrims were crushed to death in a tunnel near Makkah. Both stampedes occurred
on Eid Al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam's most important feast and the
day of the stoning ritual.

The haj,
the world's largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of numerous
deadly stampedes, fires and riots in the past, but their frequency was greatly
reduced in recent years as the government spent billions of dollars upgrading
and expanding haj infrastructure and crowd control technology.

Safety
during haj is a politically sensitive issue for the kingdom's ruling Al Saud
dynasty, which presents itself internationally as the guardian of orthodox
Islam and custodian of its holiest places in Makkah and Medina.

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