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PH saddened by fatal stampede in Mecca

THE Philippines extended its condolences  Friday  to the families of victims who died  Thursday  in a stampede near the Islamic Holy city of Mecca during an annual hajj in Saudi Arabia.

“We extend our condolences to the families of those who died in the stampede. On the part of the Philippine government, our consulate general in Jeddah is verifying unconfirmed reports that one Filipino pilgrim died in the stampede in Mecca,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

Coloma

At least 717 people taking part in the pilgrimage were killed in a stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca, officials in Saudi Arabia said. Another 863 people were injured.

It was the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years.

King Salman has ordered an urgent review of this year’s hajj plans “to improve the level of organization”.

The supreme leader of Iran, which lost at least 95 of its citizens in the crush, criticized Saudi Arabia’s preparedness.

The stampede was the second disaster to strike Mecca in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque, killing 109 people.

During the hajj, pilgrims travel to Mina, a large valley about five kilometers from Mecca, to throw seven stones at pillars called Jamarat, which represent the devil.

The pillars stand where Satan is believed to have tempted the prophet Abraham.

People were going towards the direction of pillars while others were coming from the opposite direction, creating chaos.

Among those who died were pilgrims from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Senegal. Pilgrims clambered on top of others to move to safety, adding to the death toll.

People were chanting Allah’s name while others, including children and infants, were crying. People fell to the ground seeking help, but there was none to be had, reports said.

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