CAIRO: At least eight Egyptian pilgrims were killed and 30 others injured in a stampede while performing the pilgrimage rituals in Mecca Thursday, the Awqaf (Religious Endowment) Minister Mokhtar Gomma has announced.
The dead pilgrims have been identified, while only 14 of the injured pilgrims have been identified, Gomma, who is also the head of Egypt’s pilgrimage mission, was quoted by Youm7 Thursday evening.
The stampede occurred while almost 2 million of pilgrims from all over the world were simultaneously performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mena near Mecca. The stampede claimed the lives of at least 717 pilgrims and injured over 800, according to media reports.
“I saw someone trip over someone in a wheelchair and several people tripping over him. People were climbing over one another just to breathe,” Egyptian pilgrim Abdullah Lotfy told the Associated Press (AP) Thursday.
Lotfy, 44, blamed the Saudi authorities’ “lack of preparation.”
According to the AP, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said the crush appears to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.
In a televised speech aired Thursday at the Saudi Al-Ekhbariya T.V. channel, Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih blamed “lack of discipline and ignoring the Hajj instructions and timetables among pilgrims ” for the Thursday’s stampede.
On Sept. 11, two Egyptian pilgrims died from their injuries caused by a construction crane that collapsed in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, announced the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
A total of 22 Egyptians were reportedly injured in the accident, which left 107 dead and an estimated 238 injured.
The Hajj, Islamic pilgrimage, is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is the largest Muslim gathering through the year, during which deaths among pilgrims usually occur, mostly due to sudden health crises