4 Chinese among 362 haj stampede fatalities
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-14 05:20
About 2.5 million pilgrims from all over the world attended this year's haj,
which ended on Thursday.
Although Saudi Arabia blamed unruly pilgrims on Friday for the crush, many
Muslims said better security could have prevented the worst disaster to befall
the ritual in 16 years.
The pilgrims were crushed on the last day of the haj at the disaster-prone
Jamarat Bridge in Mina, a narrow valley, as they jostled to perform a stoning
ritual in the early afternoon.
"The state has made every effort and done everything it should," the
kingdom's top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, said on state
television, accusing pilgrims of being disorderly.
Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, the kingdom's interior minister, also
blamed pilgrims who defied the rules and carried their belongings with them and
ignored advice to perform the ritual throughout the day.
Many pilgrims insist on following the prophet Mohammad's example of stoning
after noon prayers instead of staggering the ritual throughout the day as some
Agencies contributed to the story