Egyptian pilgrim fatalities in hajj stampede rise to 138: Minister

Ahram Online , Sunday 4 Oct 2015

The death toll has been rising on a daily basis since 23 September

Medics rush to the site where pilgrims were crushed and trampled to death during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mina, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 (AP)

The number of Egyptian pilgrims killed in the Mecca stampede has risen to 138, head of Egypt's pilgrimage delegation and religious endowments minister Mokhtar Gomaa said on Sunday.

The minister also announced during a news conference that 96 Egyptians are still missing, according to the latest reports.

Gomaa's statements came following a meeting with the head of the Egyptian cabinet, Sherif Ismail. During the meeting, the latest reports concerning the fatalities and missing pilgrims were presented.

The stampede occurred Thursdayday, 24 September, as pilgrims converged in Mena, just outside Mecca, to take part in a ritual involving the symbolic stoning of the devil.

The Egyptian foreign ministry and the ministry of endowments have been posting pictures and providing the numbers of information hotlines for the families of missing pilgrims.

Meanwhile, the minister of endowments said that the cause of the incident will not be discussed before investigations are closed.

Investigations into the hajj tragedy are being conducted by Saudi Arabian authorities.

"All casualties have been buried and DNA samples have been taken from the unidentified bodies. It will take up to 12 days to identify these deceased pilgrims," Gomaa added.

It is expected that DNA samples will also be collected from families of missing pilgrims starting Monday, following the arrival of the health minister from Saudi Arabia.

The latest figures released on Saturday by Saudi authorities placed the death toll of the Mena stampede at 769, with at least 934 injured.

Almost two million pilgrims took part in the stoning ritual this year, with an estimated 62,000 Egyptians performing hajj in 2015.

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