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Mecca pilgrim tragedy toll mounts to 53

Stampedes, militant attacks and deadly virus scares are the major worries of this year's pilgrimage organisers.

world Updated: Jan 06, 2006 18:21 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

The death toll in the Mecca building collapse has now risen to 53. The initial assessment of 18 deaths continued to rise as bodies were retrieved from under the rubble throughout the night. More than 60 people are currently reported to be injured.

An Interior Minister official said that the number could rise further as rescue teams continue to clear away rubble from the building, which collapsed in the mid-day bustle of a narrow market street.

The tragedy occurred before thestart of the five-day Hajj, when 2.5 million Muslims cram into the mountain city where Islam was born. More than a million pilgrims are already in Mecca.

Deadly stampedes, attacks by Islamist militants or the possibility that a dangerous virus could spread through the crowds like wildfire are three eventualities worrying the Saudi organisers of this year's pilgrimage.

First Published: Jan 06, 2006 17:58 IST