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Death Toll Rises To 717 In Haj Pilgrim Stampede Thursday

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KUALA LUMPUR – The death toll in the stampede on Thursday during the annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has risen to 717, according to the Saudi Arabia General Directorate of Civil Defence.

It said in its official Twitter @KSA_998 that 805 others were injured in the 11am (Saudi time) incident caused by large numbers of people pushing at the Street 204 in Mina, outside Makkah to perform the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual.

It said more than 220 ambulances and 4,000 rescue workers had been sent to the stampede’s location to assist the injured.

Street 204, where the stampede occurred is one of the two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, the site where pilgrims ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three large pillars.

The news agency, Reuters reported the incident was the worst to befall the pilgrimage in 25 years since July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims were crushed to death in a tunnel near Makkah.

Both stampedes occurred on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam’s most important feast and the day of the stoning ritual, according to the agency.

In 2006, another stampede during the haj took place when at least 346 pilgrims were killed as they attempted to perform the ‘Stoning of the Devil’ ritual at Jamarat.

Earlier, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said no Malaysian was involved in the haj pilgrim stampede.

He also denied reports spiralling in the social media that the death of Malaysian pilgrim Siti Haryati Shaikh Ali, 43, was related to the stampede.

He said Siti Haryati died at the Makkah Hospital today, due to respiratory ailment.

To date, 16 Malaysians died during the current haj pilgrimage where seven of them succumbed to injuries in the crane collapse while the rest were due to heart and respiratory ailments, he added.

More than three million pilgrims worldwide, including over 22,000 Malaysians are now in the Holy Land to perform the Haj this year.

– BERNAMA

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