Pilgrims continue Haj rites after crush kills over 700
Pilgrims circle the Kaaba.
Mina - Around 2 million people from more than 180 countries took part in the five-day pilgrimage.
Published: Fri 25 Sep 2015, 5:11 PM
Last updated: Sat 26 Sep 2015, 12:35 AM
Pilgrims somberly resumed the final rites of Haj on Friday after more than 700 people suffocated or were trampled to death when two waves of pilgrims collided in the deadliest disaster to strike the annual pilgrimage in a quarter-century.
The Haj 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 on Saturday.
"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, near the site of the disaster in the town of Mina, just outside Makkah. "We wish that Allah will facilitate our pilgrimage."
Omar, like 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 was confronted in this spot by the devil.
Among the 717 killed in Mina were pilgrims from Iran, Egypt, Turkey, India and Pakistan. Afghanistan's Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs said on Friday that eight Afghan pilgrims were still missing.
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 kilometres from Makkah that has been the site of Haj stampedes in past years. The area houses more than 160,000 tents for pilgrims. The street where the incident took place is about 12 metres wide and lined with barricades, behind which are some of the tents of Haj tour groups, organised by nationality.
The Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the incident.
A pilgrim prays on a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, near Makkah.