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Death toll of Indians rises to 81 in Haj stampede

The death toll of Indians in the Haj stampede has risen to 81 even as scores of nationals are still missing after the September’s tragedy, worst to hit the annual pilgrimage in 25 years.

Noting that Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh was in Saudi Arabia for the identification process of the missing Indians by the Saudi authorities, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said seven more Indian have been identified among the deceased in the Haj stampede taking the toll to 81.

“The minister sought the intervention of the Saudi Health Minister to find the identities of all the Indian pilgrims. He also conveyed that several missing cases were still pending with the Indian mission and it can only be resolved after the identification process is complete. Singh has been assured of all support and assistance by the Saudi minister,” he said.

The Spokesperson did not give the number of missing Indians in the tragedy, saying it was not possible given the current situation where many of them were now identified as deceased.

The Haj stampede on September 24 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.

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