Diary of A Haji:21 Days for the Holy Land
STAMPEDE AT JAMRAAT KILLS SEVERAL HUNDRED HAJIS
May 24-25, 1994:
I took two grams of vitamin C. Manzoor Ali gave me a pack of lozenges for the throat.
According to Khalid, about six hundred people died yesterday at the Jamraat between noon and 2:00 p.m. According to another source, CNN back home had reported about 800 people dead.
I recalled a group of about twelve Nigerians at Jamrat ul Wusta, who were clenched together, their hands across the shoulders of the people in front of them, moving as one solid block away from the wall after finishing the task.
While they were coming out with full force, anyone who happened to be in their way could get hurt if they were not watchful. I was lucky to not be in their direct path and was able to notice them at the right moment to escape. One wrong turn and they could have crushed me.
Of course they were not trying to hurt others. With so many people there, the scenes change suddenly and you don't know what is coming to you in a few more seconds.
According to the Daily Arab News, 829 pilgrims died, out of which about 600 died just yesterday during Rummy at [the] Jamraat due to a stampede, heat, etc.
The total number of Hajis this year is 1,531,681 according to the Riyadh Daily. It stated that 995,611 came from abroad and 536,070 from within Saudi Arabia.
The Riyadh Daily and Saudi Gazette had no news of the death toll. The Saudi Gazette on its first page said that 2.5 million performed Hajj. The Riyadh Daily's Urdu [language] section stated that 2,067,681 is the total number of Hajis, [with] 1,531,611 from abroad and 536,070 from within Saudi Arabia.
The actual number is perhaps much bigger. [I] heard that when it came to be known that Hajj this year was going to be on Friday, a lot more people decided to perform Hajj at the last minute.
I took a chance [and went] to Jeddah, a modern port city with high rise buildings. On my way to Jeddah there was a landmark arc over the highway with a huge open book resembling the Quran.
In Jeddah we passed by the beach, a park and saw a water fountain shooting water towards the sky. [We also saw] beautiful roadways, bridges and multilane highways which only a rich country can afford.
On our way back we ate at a barbecue chicken fast-food restaurant. Newspaper report statements by various Muslim leaders [expressed appreciation to the] Saudi government for the huge Hajj facilities.
Improvement of facilities, bridges, new roads appeared to be an ongoing process undertaken by the government. It is difficult to say how much effort is being put into the proper education and skills development of Hajj workers and Saudi officials.
There appears to be a great need to develop and improve on interpersonal relations. Technology alone cannot solve the problems. A great deal of responsibility lies with the personnel.
The Hajis themselves do contribute to the Hajj gathering in many ways. Regardless of how much effort is put forth by the Saudi government and their personnel, not much can be accomplished without a proper attitude by the Hajis themselves. Most pilgrims come from the Third World.
Education of pilgrims by home organizations is a must.
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