By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 30, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – At least 13 Ethiopian pilgrims perished in last week’s stampede, which occurred during the Hajj pilgrimage near the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry announced on Wednesday.
Bodies of Muslim pilgrims are seen after a stampede at Mina, outside the holy Muslim city of Mecca, September 24, 2015. At least 717 pilgrims from around the world were killed on Thursday in a crush outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi authorities said, in the worst disaster to strike the annual haj pilgrimage for 25 years. Picture taken September 24, 2015 (REUTERS/Stringer)
The government had earlier reported that only two Ethiopians died in the tragic incident.
Over 700 people reportedly died in the stampede that occured on Thursday last week while taking part in this year’s pilgrimage at Mina, an area located in the outskirts of Mecca.
According to media reports, more than 800 people were injured in the incident which was the worst to ever occur during Hajj, since the 1990 disaster that killed over 1,400 people.
The Ethiopian foreign affairs ministry said another 26 Ethiopians were also injured in the disaster that occurred while two million pilgrims from 184 countries were taking part.
Those injured were reportedly receiving medical treatment at hospitals in Saudi Arabia.
The Ethiopian government in collaboration with the embassy and Saudi officials is providing the necessary help to victims and citizens. An estimated 10,000 Ethiopian Muslims were reportedly taking part at the yearly Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
The Ethiopian government has conveyed condolences to the families and relatives of those affected by the mishap.
Hundreds of Africans, mostly from Morocco and Egypt also died in the incident caused when pilgrims converged at a junction while walking towards the Jamarat Bridge.
Officials now fear that the death toll might further rise as many remained missing. The incident has raised questions on the ways the Arab nation handles the safty of pilgrims.
Saudi officials have launched investigations after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered a probe following a meeting with senior officials who were in charge of the pilgrimage.
The outcomes of the investigation will be submitted to King Salman who will then accordingly take appropriate measures, according to media reports in Saudi Arabia.