Solace offered in stampede deaths

Updated: 2015-09-26 08:30

By Agencies(China Daily)

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China is deeply saddened by the loss of life and the injuries that have occurred as a result of a stampede in the Mina Valley, about 5 kilometers from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, said a Foreign Ministry spokesman on Friday.

"We extend profound condolences to the victims as well as heartfelt sympathy to the injured and the bereaved families of the victims," said spokesman Hong Lei at a regular news briefing.

So far, the ministry has learned that one Chinese pilgrim died in Thursday's tragedy, and the Chinese embassy in Saudi Arabia and the China Hajj Working Delegation have contingency plans to deal with such incidents, he said.

Saudi authorities have yet to provide a breakdown of the nationalities of the 719 pilgrims killed in Thursday's stampede, but several countries have announced the deaths of nationals.

The toll given by foreign officials and media so far included 131 from Iran; 87 from Morocco; 14 each from Egypt and India; eight from Somalia; seven from Pakistan; five from Senegal; four from Tanzania; three each from Algeria, Indonesia and Kenya; and one each from Burundi and the Netherlands.

"There was no room to maneuver," said Aminu Abubakar, an AFP correspondent who was among the pilgrims and who escaped the crush of bodies because he was at the head of the procession.

Fellow pilgrims told him of children dying despite parents' efforts to save them near the sprawling tent city where they stay. "They threw them on rooftops, mostly tent-tops... Most of them couldn't make it."

It was the worst tragedy to strike the annual Muslim pilgrimage in a quarter of a century. The hajj 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. Muslim pilgrims are continuing with the final rites of hajj despite the tragedy. On Friday, pilgrims took part in a symbolic casting away of evil.

Xinhua - AP - AFP

Solace offered in stampede deaths

(China Daily 09/26/2015 page1)