Muslim pilgrims continue hajj rites after the stampede

Updated - March 28, 2016 08:00 pm IST

Published - September 25, 2015 05:59 pm IST - Saudi Arabia

Muslim pilgrims walk by the site where pilgrims were crushed and trampled to death during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

Muslim pilgrims walk by the site where pilgrims were crushed and trampled to death during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

Muslim pilgrims sombrely resumed the final rites of hajj on Friday, after more than 700 people were trampled to death, when two waves of pilgrims collided in the >deadliest disaster to strike the annual pilgrimage in a quarter-century.

The hajj pilgrimage is a main pillar of Islam that all able-bodied Muslims must perform once in their lifetime. This year, around 2 million people from more than 180 countries took part in the five-day pilgrimage, which ends Saturday. The mood remained sombre despite the hajj coinciding with Eid al-Adha, a major Islamic holiday.

“Yesterday’s stampede was a catastrophe. We were shocked, but we can do nothing, this was their fate,” said Lolo Omar, a pilgrim from Eritrea, said near the site of the disaster in the town of Mina. “We wish that Allah will facilitate our pilgrimage,” he added.

Like Omar, the pilgrims involved in Thursday’s disaster, was headed toward a complex housing three columns that pilgrims pelt with pebbles in a symbolic stoning of the devil. Muslims believe the Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham as he is known in the Bible, was confronted in this spot by the devil.

Among the > 717 killed in Mina were pilgrims from Iran, Egypt, Turkey, India and Pakistan.

Egyptian survivor Wael Abdullah said he had reached Mina on Thursday, when he saw people pushing and shoving to get past one another down one of the narrow streets. People tripped over those in wheelchairs, who also fell to the ground.

“I saw people falling on the ground, other people trampling them... and the situation was out of control,” he said.

Mina is a large valley about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Mecca that has been the > site of hajj stampedes in past years . The area houses more than 160,000 tents for pilgrims. The street where the incident took place is about 12 meters (36 feet) wide and lined with barricades, behind which are some of the tents of hajj tour groups, organized by nationality.

Saudi King Salman had ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incident.

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