UPDATE: Egyptian pilgrims death toll reached 55: Endowment Min
An ambulance evacuates victims following a crush caused by large numbers of people pushing at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca - REUTERS
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CAIRO: The death toll of the Egyptian pilgrims reached 55 from a stampede while performing the pilgrimage rituals in Mecca last week, the Awqaf (Religious Endowment) Minister Mokhtar Gomma announced Sunday.

On Thursday, Gomma initially announced eight Egyptian pilgrims dead but the death toll rose to 14 on Friday when the Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih announced Saturday a total death toll among pilgrims of 769.

The stampede occurred while almost 2 million pilgrims from all over the world were simultaneously performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina near Mecca.

According to the AP, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said the crush appears to have been caused by two groups of pilgrims converging 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.

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