February 01, 2004

No Malaysian Casualty In Mena Stampede

From Amir Hamzah Md Sap

MECCA, Feb 1 (Bernama) -- There were no reports of any Malaysian casualties in the stampede which occurred during a devil-stoning ritual at Jamrah Aqabah, Mena, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin Sunday.
He said it was true there was a massive congestion when pilgrims were rushing to perform the ritual early this morning, but so far no Malaysian had been reported to be involved.
"The actual number of fatalities has yet to be confirmed by the Saudi Arabian authorities," he told Malaysian reporters here.
He advised relatives of Malaysian pilgrims to remain calm.
Tabung Haji staff have been asked to liaise with the Saudi Arabian authorities to determine if there were any Malaysian casualties, he said.
According to a Reuters report, at least 244 Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death and the same number injured in a human tide during a devil-stoning ritual at the climax of the annual haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia today.
Muslims around the world began to celebrate Aidiladha, the feast of sacrifice, on Sunday.
Haj is mandatory once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Pilgrims begin the ritual by retracing the footsteps of Prophet Mohammed 14 centuries ago.

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