IHRC is launching an independent investigation into last Thursday’s Hajj tragedy in which up to 2000 people may have lost their lives and thousands more were injured. Many hundreds are still unaccounted for.
The victims were all pilgrims performing the rites of the annual pilgrimage. Tragedy struck when two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other at right angles at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina, a large valley about 5km (3 miles) from Mecca.
IHRC is calling on anyone who witnessed the disaster in Mina on 24 September to submit evidence so the organisation can construct a true picture of what happened in the lead up to the disaster on and its aftermath.
Eye-witnesses with or without photographic or video evidence are urged to come forward and submit testimonies to the IHRC. All participants will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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It is imperative that witnesses come forward for what will probably be the only independent investigation into the tragedy. In view of comments by Saudi Arabian officials already apportioning blame on unruly pilgrims there is little reason to have faith in the investigation being conducted by the kingdom.
The importance of an independent investigation is underlined by the frequency of such disasters to strike the Hajj in recent times. On 11 September over 100 worshippers were killed after a crane being used in works to expand the Grand Mosque toppled over in bad weather. On
12 January 2006, more than 360 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in Mina. Two years earlier a crush of pilgrims at Mina killed about 250 pilgrims and injured hundreds on the final day of the hajj ceremonies.