New Delhi: The death toll of Indians in the Haj stampede rose to 74 today with Saudi authorities announcing more causalities, even as scores of people were still missing after the worst tragedy in 25 years to hit the annual pilgrimage.
"Haj stampede - Saudi Arabia has released a further list. The Indian toll is now 74," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today. Scores of Indians and people from other nationalities are missing since the stampede at the annual Haj near the holy city of Mecca on September 24.
Swaraj had earlier said 78 Indians are missing and the government is doing everything to locate them. According to reports, tallies of the dead from foreign officials and media put the toll at 1,036.
File pic of Haj during the stoning ritual
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh has been rushed to Saudi Arabia to coordinate with the authorities there to trace the missing Indians. Singh was asked by Swaraj to leave yesterday after Saudi government informed India that it will be interacting with individual countries regarding their nationals -both dead or missing.
The Minister of State will coordinate with the local authorities and strengthen the efforts of Consul General there. The Haj stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other from different directions at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.
It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca's Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people, including 11 Indians.