Mecca stampede: no reports of Sri Lankan victims
September 24, 2015 03:41 pm
The Sri Lankan Embassy in Saudi Arabia says no reports of Sri Lankan victims in a stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season that killed more than 300 people and left 450 others wounded.
The stampede occurred during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.
Hundreds have been killed in past years during the same ceremony.
“We have a stampede accident in Mina and civil defense is dealing with it,” Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said.
The latest death toll, according to the civil defense ministry, is 310 but the numbers have been climbing steadily throughout the day.
Officials deployed 4,000 workers and 220 ambulances and other vehicles to Mina to help with the disaster.
In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars, in a re-enactment of an event when Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions.
The ceremony was the scene of stampedes and hundreds of deaths in the 1980s and 1990s as pilgrims passed a crowded bottleneck area leading to the small pillars on the ground.
In 2006, a stampede there killed at least 363 people.
After that, the Saudi government erected three massive pillars and completed a $1.2 billion, five-story bridge nearby where pilgrims can toss stones. It was meant to be a roomier atmosphere and more efficient way to accommodate the faithful.
Update -- Minister of Muslim Religious Affairs and Posts Abdul Haleem too confirms that no reports of Sri Lankan victims in a stampede.