India monitoring Haj tragedy, one Indian injured

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The government said on Thursday it was monitoring the situation in Saudi Arabia where one Indian has been injured in a Haj stampede that left 450 pilgrims dead and over 700 injured.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indian mission in Jeddah was “continuously monitoring situation in Makkah following (the) tragic stampede.

“No confirmed casualties at this point of time,” he tweeted.

The tragedy took place near Mina, some five kilometres from Makkah, said Saudi authorities.

A Haj pilgrim from Lakshadweep was among the injured, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said in Thiruvananthapuram.

About two million Muslims are taking part in this year’s Haj pilgrimage, which began on Tuesday. Some 136,000 pilgrims are from India.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah mourned the deaths.

“Tragic news coming out of Mecca,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister tweeted. “Prayers with the injured and with the loved ones of the deceased.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Terrible tragedy. Prayers for all.”

Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah told IANS that the disaster happened because of the concentration of a very large number of people at one place at a particular point of time.

“It’s sad. We can’t blame anyone for it as it is bound to happen where lots of people are gathered,” she said, adding that both the Indian and Saudi governments had made good arrangements for devotees.

She said it would take time to identify the dead as everyone wears the same clothes while performing rituals at Makkah.

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