Haj stampede: Death toll of Indians killed rises to 22

Haj stampede

The death toll of Indian pilgrims in the horrific stampede during Hajj rose to 22 on Saturday as Saudi Arabia grappled to come to terms with the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in 25 years that has claimed 769 lives so far.

Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Saturday confirmed that 22 Indians have lost lives in the stampede.

“We are facilitating visits of relatives of missing pilgrims and tour operators to the complex for identification,” she said.

Earlier, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “Our officials on the ground in Mecca have been working continuously to ascertain information and reach out to family members of missing pilgrims.”

“Our mission is working with Saudi authorities and family members to confirm the identities of the deceased and expedite formalities for release of the mortal remains,” he said.

Of the 22 Indians killed, 11 were from Gujarat, three were from Tamil Nadu and one each from Telangana, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Six Keralites dead

On Saturday, officials identified four more Keralites hailing from Kollam and Kozhikode district, among the 769 killed in the stampede.

According to information received by relatives, Sulfiqar (33), a native of Chithara, Sajib Habeeb (46) of Punalur, Amina from Karunagappally and Muhammed Fayis (1) from Feroke were killed in the tragedy.

Sulfiqar’s mother Laila Biwi, Fayis’ father Abdul Muneer and mother Sabinas are reportedly missing. Amina’s husband Muhammed Shafi is also missing.

Moideen Abdul Khader (62) from Vadakancherry and Abdurahman (51) from Malappuram were the other two Keralites killed in the stampede.

Names of Abdul Khader and Abdurahman were not in the list released by the Indian Mission in Saudi as they had gone for the pilgrimage from Riyadh.

Sixteen Indians, including four Keralites are undergoing treatment, while eight Keralites are yet to be traced.

Hajj ends

Saudi Arabia deployed large numbers of special forces on Saturday as pilgrims performed the final rituals of a hajj marred by double tragedy, with the toll from a stampede rising to 769.

Health Minister Khaled al-Falih announced the new figure, an increase from the previous toll of 717.

The number of injured rose to 934 from 863 recorded just after the deadliest incident in a quarter-century to strike the annual pilgrimage.

Dozens of “special emergency force” personnel were seen Saturday on one level of Jamarat Bridge, a five-storey structure at Mina where pilgrims ritually stone the devil, and on which hundreds of thousands were converging when the stampede occurred nearby.

Many more special forces patrolled the network of roads leading to the structure.

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