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Haj crush kills 345; 6 Indians

AT LEAST 345 Haj pilgrims -- possibly six of them Indians -- were killed in a stampede on Thursday as they tripped over luggage in a scramble to hurl pebbles at symbols of Satan. Though Saudi officials said there was no breakup of the nationalities available yet, minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed said in New Delhi that six Indians-- four women and two men -- are feared dead. The minister said under his instructions, three helplines have been opened in Mina for the Indians as well as outsiders to seek information.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2006 01:41 IST
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AT LEAST 345 Haj pilgrims -- possibly six of them Indians -- were killed in a stampede on Thursday as they tripped over luggage in a scramble to hurl pebbles at symbols of Satan.

Though Saudi officials said there was no breakup of the nationalities available yet, minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed said in New Delhi that six Indians-- four women and two men -- are feared dead. The minister said under his instructions, three helplines have been opened in Mina for the Indians as well as outsiders to seek information.

Ahamed said families concerned will be informed about the welfare of their relatives.

Indian Consul-General in Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed, who is camping at Mina, said 25 Indians were among the injured, of which 17 were discharged after first aid.

He said the situation was being monitored and Indian doctors had been deployed at major hospitals to check for Indians.

Saudi Health Minister Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Maneh said 289 people were injured.
The Saudi Interior Ministry earlier said in a statement the stampede occurred at the eastern entrance of Mina's Jamrat bridge after pilgrims jostled to perform the stoning ritual between noon and sunset.

An Egyptian pilgrim said: "Just when we went to throw the stones, I saw a huge rush and pilgrims falling."

First Published: Jan 13, 2006 01:41 IST