78 Egyptian pilgrims killed in Mecca’s stampede, 84 still missing
Muslim pilgrim walks on a bridge as they head to cast stones at pillars symbolizing Satan during the annual haj pilgrimage in Mina, on the second day of Eid al-Adha, near the holy city of Mecca September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

CAIRO: The number of Egyptian pilgrims who were killed in Mecca’s Mina stampede has reached 78, while 84 are still missing, Minister of Endowment Mokhtar Gomaa said Monday.

A total of 42 Egyptians died during the pilgrimage of 2015 due to health issues; a usual occurrence among pilgrims every year.

Eight Egyptians died after a crane fell over them right before the pilgrimage season began; the incident claimed 107 lives.

More than 750 pilgrims were killed in the stampede. Saudi Arabia vowed to compensate the crane victims with millions of riyals, and the stampede incident has raised controversy over the Kingdom’s capability in handling millions of pilgrims in the biggest gathering of people in the world every year.

The most recent major stampede incident in Mecca occurred in 2006, in which more than 300 pilgrims were killed. The Grand Mosque complex in Mecca is undergoing major expansions that are planned to be finished in 2020 to accommodate the largest number of pilgrims possible.

Hajj, Islamic pilgrimage, is one of Islam’s five pillars; it is a once in a lifetime obligation on Muslims who can bear the ritual physically and financially.

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