Muslim Pilgrims Resume Hajj After Fatal Stampede

Nearly 2 million Muslim Hajj pilgrims threw pebbles at three pillars in a symbolic stoning of Satan today, a day after at least 35 worshippers died in a stampede while attempting to perform the same religious ritual.

Undeterred by the deaths of at least 35 people on Monday, pilgrims packed the mile-long Jamarat Bridge in Mena outside the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia and pelted the concrete pillars to chants of "In the name of God, God is greatest."

At least 35 people, including 23 women, were crushed to death or suffocated on the bridge Monday, the first day of the devil-stoning ritual, as overzealous pilgrims tried to push their way through to the main pillar, a Saudi official said.

A Saudi source later said the death toll had risen to 38, but there was no official confirmation of this.

Egypt's state television today said two more Egyptians were reported dead, raising to four the toll among the country's pilgrims.

Pakistani officials earlier said seven pilgrims from Pakistan had been killed in the stampede.

Saudi officials have not released the nationalities of the victims, but Saudi sources said most of the dead and some of the injured were from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Egyptians, Algerians, Turks and Moroccans were also among some 170 pilgrims injured in the stampede. About 80 of them were hospitalized, the sources said. Some were said to be in serious condition.

Elaborate Crowd Control

The stoning ritual went smoothly today under the watchful eyes of hundreds of police as loudspeaker announcements in eight languages guided the pilgrims, who were given free chilled water in temperatures that reached 95 Fahrenheit.

Police formed human chains to limit the number of people going through to the pillars. Medical teams stood by and helicopters hovered above.

Monday's accident appeared not to have dimmed the enthusiasm of the pilgrims.

"It was unfortunate what happened yesterday," said Abdullah, from Egypt. "But accidents happen and let's hope it will not be repeated."

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef expressed grief at the deaths and said the tragedy was caused by large numbers of pilgrims rushing onto the bridge to complete their rituals.

He urged Muslim countries to intensify programs to make pilgrims more aware of performing rituals safely.

Immense Display of Faith

Official Saudi figures showed that 1.36 million pilgrims from around the world performed the Hajj this year, joined by 440,000 from inside the kingdom.

The pilgrims will sleep in Mena for another night before a third day of devil-stoning Wednesday, the fifth and last day of the Hajj.

Monday's tragedy occurred as the world's 1 billion Muslims began celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

The Hajj has been marred by similar fatal incidents in recent years. The biggest reported tragedy was in 1990 when 1,426 pilgrims were crushed to death in a stampede in a tunnel.

A fatal fire in 1997 led Saudi Arabia to spend millions of dollars on fire-proof tents.

The pilgrims prayed for mercy and forgiveness at Mount Arafat Sunday and sacrificed hundreds of thousands of cows, sheep and camels Monday at the start of the four-day Eid.

Before leaving for home Wednesday, pilgrims will return to Mecca and again circle the cube-shaped Kaaba, which Muslims worldwide turn to when they pray five times a day.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford the trip must complete the Hajj at least once in their lifetime.

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