New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today put the death toll in the Haj stampede in Mina at 1090, including 35 Indians, much higher than the figure of 769 given by Saudi authorities.
“Saudi authorities have released photos of 1090 pilgrims who have died in Haj stampede,” Swaraj tweeted. Her tweet came a day after Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih said the death toll from the stampede during Haj has risen to 769. He also told reporters the number of injured had risen to 934.
Swaraj also tweeted, “Unfortunately, there are six more Indians taking the toll to 35.” According to sources, though the Saudi authorities had not changed the official death toll, their various agencies together had put out pictures of 1090 people killed in the worst tragedy to hit the annual pilgrimage in 25 years.
King Salman has ordered the formation of a committee to probe the incident during the five-day pilgrimage in which around two million people from more than 180 countries took part. From India, 1.5 lakh pilgrims performed Haj.
Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam that should be performed at least once in a lifetime by every Muslim who is financially and physically capable. The stampede broke out on Thursday after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.
It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing over 100 people, including many foreigners.