Dubai, Feb. 2 (NNN): At least 244 people, including three Indians and 15 Pakistanis, were trampled to death and an equal number injured in a stampede as pilgrims scrambled to stone the Satan on Sunday in Mina valley near Makkah.
He said 244 pilgrims died in the incident in Jamarat and 244 were injured.
The stampede took place as pilgrims flocked to Jamarat Bridge in Mina to stone the Satan.
According to the minister, some pilgrims were not organised and there was a crush by people carrying personal belongings which caused obstacles to the movement.
He said most of the dead were believed to be from among illegal pilgrims. These are people who came to Makkah to perform Umrah during Ramazan, as well as residents of Saudi Arabia who never registered to perform this year’s Hajj. But the minister could not provide the nationalities of those who lost their lives.
Giving details of security in the area, he said in Mina, 10,000 policemen were deployed before the Hajj. He added that 2,000 national guard members were deployed to the area following the stampede as reinforcements.
Police deployed en masse tried to keep the ceremony orderly with frequent warnings through loudspeakers, while a helicopter hovered over the scene. The first two days of the pilgrimage passed without incident under tight security. Last year 14 pilgrims, including six women, were killed in a stampede during the first day of the stoning ritual and 35 in 2001, while the 1998 the Hajj saw 118 killed and more than 180 hurt at Mina.
The worst toll of the pilgrimage was in July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims were trampled or asphyxiated to death in a stampede in a tunnel, also in Mina.
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