1 Filipino dead in Saudi Arabia hajj stampede

A FILIPINO pilgrim was among more than 700 who died Thursday, Sept. 24, during a stampede at the annual Muslim hajj in Saudi Arabia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed Friday, Sept. 25.

“The Philippine consulate General in Jeddah has confirmed that one local Filipino pilgrim died in the stampede in Mecca,” Foreign Assistant Secretary Charles Jose sent in a text message statement to reporters, according to Inquirer.

Per the family’s request, the DFA declined to identify who the victim is.

Other victims came from Senegal, India, Morocco, Pakistan and Iran, according to Agence France-Presse.

Hundreds of Filipino Muslims participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca each year, with more than 8,100 among the two million pilgrims that participated in the third day of the hajj, according to ABS-CBN News. This year’s death toll this year was one of the worst, coming after 1,426 deaths in July 1990 when pilgrims suffocated in a tunnel near Mecca, GMA News reported. In addition to the deaths, the Saudi civil defense service said that at least 863 were injured this years.

The incident occurred at approximately 9 am in a large valley called Mina, which is about three miles away from Mecca and has been where previous hajj stampedes have taken place. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had crowded at Mina to throw pebbles at one of three walls that represent Satan as the last major ritual of the hajj, Rappler reported.

The Saudi civil defense directorate said the tragedy happened as a number of pilgrims were simultaneously in motion at the intersection of two streets, proceeding toward a sizable structure overlooking the columns, Philstar reported.

Interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki credited the hundreds of deaths to the “great heat” and “fatigue of the pilgrims,” according to Rappler.

One Saudi minister said pilgrims were at fault for the incident because they did not comply with hajj rules.

Health Minister Khaled al-Falih told El-Ekhbariya television, “Many pilgrims move without respecting the time tables” set for the hajj. “If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided.”

Thursday’s incident comes weeks following the death of more than 100 individuals when a construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Separately, two Filipino pilgrims died during the hajj while performing rituals, ABS-CBN News reported. Aleem Abdulwahid, head of the Filipino pilgrim delegation, identified the individuals as Jadir Sali and Amman Hayudini, according to the news bureau. Their deaths are not related to the stampede.

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