From the news desk

SA hujjaj safe from stampede

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No South African hujjaj were affected by Thursday’s stampede in Mina. At least 310 pilgrims have been reported dead, and 450 injured, with the death-toll expected to rise. The stampede occurred on Road 204, enroute to the Jamarat complex. Photos on social media show the trampled bodies, many of them in Ihraam, strewn on the roads.

The civil defense team also said their teams on the ground are leading pilgrims to safer routes away from the stampede through alternate routes and that rescue operations are still underway.

Speaking to VOC News from Mina, haj correspondent Shaykh Abdu Rahman Laily, situated at the SA special services camp, said emergency response teams were immediately dispatched to the scene.

“I can hear all sirens, the choppers and police. The area has been barred from access and traffic has been re-channelled to the isolate the situation,” he reported.
The cause of the stampede is unclear at this stage.

While there is no confirmation of the nationalities of the deceased or injured, Laily said the incident took place where many European camps are situated.

“It’s a portion of Mina many South Africans are not familiar with.”

While Sahuc could not be reached for comment, the South African Haj Travel Operators Association (Sathoa) chairperson Sedick Steenkamp said they are in contact with all travel operators in the Saudi Kingdom to make an immediate assessment to account for all hujjaj.

“We are in contact with Sahuc and all our members for constant updates,” said Steenkamp.

“We make dua that all our people are safe.”

Steenkamp confirmed that the South African camp is far removed from the site of the stampede and that most SA hujjaj would have left Mina last night already. Besides extreme exhaustion and dehydration at Arafat on Wednesday, Steenkamp reported that things have run smoothly for the SA hujjaj.

“We had a good day on Arafat and the movement has been trouble-free. We make dua that Allah (swt)continue to grant all our hujjaj an easy and safe haj, InshaAllah.”

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