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15.01.2006 General News

No Ghanaian Was killed In Hajj Stampede

By Graphic

Investigations conducted by the Ghanaian Medical Team in Saudi Arabia have revealed that no Ghanaian was killed or got injured in the stampede that resulted in the death of 345 pilgrims at Mina during the stone-throwing programme on Thursday afternoon.

“No Ghanaian fatality was recorded as of this moment according to our investigations,” the Head of the Medical Team, Dr Mohammed Mbiniwaya told the Daily Graphic yesterday.

He explained that there was also no information about any Ghanaian pilgrim missing. However, three Ghanaian pilgrims out of more than 300 pilgrims died from natural causes in Mecca.

They were two males aged 90 and 75 from Tamale in the Northern Region and a 65-year-old woman from Accra.

The medical team said several pilgrims, including police officers who sustained various degrees of injury, are currently receiving treatments at different hospitals in Mecca, following the stampede.

The pilgrims, numbering one million, were at the site between 1.30p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to do the third throwing of pebbles, one of the rites of Hajj, when they were stampeded due to heat and pressure.

The throwing of pebbles symbolised how Prophet Abraham drove away Satan with pebbles when Satan tried to influence him to disobey God's commandment to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

The dead and the injured were transported to hospitals in ambulances, while their family members wept uncontrollably.

Despite the death and injuries, pilgrims were not deterred as they kept on trooping in their numbers to throw the pebbles.

The Chairman of the National Hajj Council, Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim, described the incident as “very unfortunate” and added that “luckily, no Ghanaian was involved”.

He said some of the pilgrims disobeyed the order not to come out from where they entered, thereby causing the stampede.

Sheikh Ibrahim said the council would for the first time next year attend the pre-Hajj meeting aimed at taking measures to reduce fatalities during the Hajj.

Earlier, the Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, had urged Ghanaian pilgrims to extend the unity they exhibited during the Hajj to bear on the socio-economic development of the country.

He stressed that the development of Muslims, as a people, depended on their unity of purpose.

The Vice-President's message was contained in an Eid-Ul-Adha message read on Wednesday on his behalf by Ghana's Ambassador-designate to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Rashid Bawa, to Ghanaian pilgrims at Mina in Saudi Arabia.

Among the dignitaries were the Consular General, Mr Abubakar Amadu; the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Usman Nuhu Sharubutu; the Chief Imam of the Ahl-Suna Wal-Jama'a, Sheikh Umar Ibrahim and the Chairman of the National Hajj Council, Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim.

The Vice-President commended the pilgrims for co-existing peacefully with one another, despite the fact that they came from different ethnic groups.

He asked them to pray for continuous peace and the rapid development of Ghana.

Sheikh Sharubutu prayed to God to protect the President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, the Vice-President, the government and the people of Ghana.