Four Chinese pilgrims among 345 dead in Hajj stampede
Updated: 2006-01-13 06:39
Muslim pilgrims tripped over luggage while hurrying to ritually stone the
devil Thursday, causing a crush that trampled at least 345 people to death in
the latest stampede to mar Islam's annual hajj.
Among the dead, four were confirmed to be Chinese nationals, according to a
Foreign Ministry statement. Chinese diplomats have gone to the site to gather
information and to handle the tragic accident. Several Chinese pilgrims were injured
and were discharged from hospital after treatment.
According a CRIonline report
quoting China Muslim pilgrimage group, all the four dead were from Qinghai
Province in western China, and one of them was a woman.
The four were: Ma Delin, male, born in 1944; Ma Taishan, male, born in 1943,
Sha Tianlu, male, born in 1947; and Ru Geya, female, born in 1956.
Chinese President Hu Jintao instructed the Foreign Ministry and other
departments take measures to help the injured and to properly handle the sad
incident. Hu also sent a telegram of condolence to Saudi King, according to the
Saudi authorities have sought
for years to ease the flow of increasingly mammoth crowds, but the tragedy
underlined the difficulty in managing one of the biggest religious events in the
world, which this time drew more than 2.5 million pilgrims.
Bodies of pilgrims
are removed in Mena outside Mecca January 12, 2006. At least 345 people
were crushed to death on Thursday during a stoning ritual on the last day
of the haj, the worst tragedy to beset the sacred ritual in more than a
The deaths on the final day of stoning came a week after another hajj
disaster ¡ª the Jan. 5 collapse of a building being used as a pilgrims' hotel
that killed 76 people in Mecca.
In the stoning ritual, all the pilgrims must pass a series of three "pillars"
called al-Jamarat, which represent the devil and which the faithful pelt with
stones to purge themselves of sin.
The site in the desert of Mina outside the holy city of Mecca is a notorious
bottleneck in the weeklong pilgrimage and has seen deadly incidents in seven of
the past 17 years, including a stampede in 1990 that killed 1,426 people and one
in 2004 that killed 244.
"I heard screaming and ... saw people jumping over each other," said Suad Abu
Hamada, an Egyptian pilgrim. "Police starting pulling out bodies. The bodies
were piled up. I couldn't count them, they were too many."
Bodies covered in white sheets lined the pavement near the ramp where the
stampede occurred, and emergency workers rushed the injured away on stretchers.
Police cleared part of the site, but thousands of pilgrims continued the stoning