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44 Indians killed in Haj stampede

Saudi officials on Friday said 44 Indian pilgrims were among those killed in the Mina stampede.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2006 04:50 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
None

Saudi officials on Friday said 44 Indian pilgrims were among those killed in the Mina stampede. Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansoor Al-torky said of the total 336 dead, 203 had been identified and India had the highest number of deaths.

The official said several bodies could not be identified as the mandatory batch on them - stating the nationality of the person - was missing. Al-torky said of those identified so far, 118 were men and 85 women.

On whether Saudi authorities could have avoided the tragedy, he said the area where the pilgrims had gathered was big enough to accommodate them all. He said the Saudi authorities could not have cut down on the number of pilgrims from each country as "the quota of each country was fixed by the Organisation of Islamic Countries". India sent 1.37 lakh pilgrims for Haj this year.

Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed said in Mina that of the Indian victims, 12 were from Uttar Pradesh, three each from Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, two each from MP and Rajasthan, and one from West Bengal. Two Indians based in Saudi Arabia were also among those killed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, reviewed the situation with MoS for External Affairs E Ahamed. Ahamed said the Indian Consul General had been instructed to approach Saudi authorities for burial of the victims on Sunday. He said the government would facilitate visas for relatives wishing to travel to Mecca for the last rites.

And while the Indian Haj Committee has announced it would give Rs 3 lakh for each death, the enormity of the tragedy began to sink in for the victims' families.

Many had seen off Mohd Idrees and Rukhsana from the Gorakhpur station on December 20. On Friday, they came again, this time at the couple's residence to share the family's grief.

Another victim was Haneefunnisa Begum from Hyderabad. She and her husband had called from Mena to greet the family on Eid. "This news has shattered us," said her son Mohammed Nawaz.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 19:30 IST