Mina stampede: Parents threw kids on tent tops to save them

Mina stampede: Parents threw kids on tent tops to save them
Pilgrims walk on a bridge as they head to cast stones at pillars symbolising Satan during the Haj in Mina.

Mina - Saudi orders review of Haj plan, rapid investigation



By Agencies

Published: Sat 26 Sep 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 26 Sep 2015, 7:35 PM

Saudi Arabia on Friday suggested pilgrims ignoring crowd control rules bore some blame for a crush that killed over 700 people at the Haj in the annual event's worst disaster for 25 years. But others blamed poor crisis management for the tragedy.
The disaster, which also injured several hundred people, was the second deadly accident to hit worshippers this month, after a crane collapse in the holy city of Makkah killed more than 100.
Dark-skinned and light-skinned, pilgrims died with arms draped around each other.


"There was no room to manoeuvre," said Aminu Abubakar, an AFP correspondent who was among the pilgrims. He escaped the crush of bodies because he was at the head of a procession.
Fellow pilgrims told him of children dying despite parents' efforts to save them near the sprawling tent city where they were lodged.
"They threw them on rooftops, mostly tent tops. Most of them couldn't make it."
The stampede broke out in Mina, about five kilometres from Makkah, during the symbolic "stoning of the Satan" ritual.
Several African and North African countries confirmed deaths, as did India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Netherlands. Moroccan media gave 87 killed, while Turkey reported 18 nationals missing.
Saudi Health Minister Khalid Al Falih said an investigation would be conducted rapidly and a final toll of dead and wounded calculated. At least 863 pilgrims were injured.
The stampede "was perhaps because some pilgrims moved without following instructions by the relevant authorities," he said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the kingdom. He said it would be wrong to "point a finger at Saudi Arabia which does its best" to make the Haj possible.
However, pilgrims at the scene faulted Saudi authorities and some said they were afraid to carry on with the rituals on Friday.
However, they also said security had improved and the crowd was smaller. Special emergency forces were deployed across Mina with dozens of troops at every level of the five-storey bridge used for the stoning ritual in which pebbles are thrown at walls.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, ordered "a revision" of how the Haj is organised, state news agency SPA said. A formal inquiry is under way.

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