Hajj stampede death toll reaches 363
This is tragic and yet kinda funny: Stricken families were hunting for their loved ones after a stampede that killed 362 Muslims at the annual hajj, a disaster Saudi authorities have blamed on unruly pilgrims. Weeping in front of a wall of pictures of dead pilgrims on Friday, families continued to seek news of missing relatives at the morgue in Mina, scene of the worst stampede during hajj since 1,426 pilgrims were killed in 1990. Riyadh has blamed the stampede on unruly pilgrims from outside officially-sanctioned operators during the ritual of the stoning of pillars symbolizing the devil. [...] Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz said in remarks published Friday by the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the stoning ceremony had been taking place for several days without problems."But what happened is that more than 12 people were carrying a large amount of baggage on their backs, so when it became too crowded they fell on the ground one on top of the other," he said."People kept falling one on top of the other until about 300 people died," he said. "Our pilgrim brothers are forbiden from carrying baggage and workloads on their shoulders during the stoning ritual." On Thursday, Saudi Health Minister Hamad bin Abdullah Al-Maneh said the stampede was caused by "unruly pilgrims, and a problem of luggage." Yes, 363 people dead because of a problem of luggage. 363 people dead and the Saudis are blaming the luggage! As if such stampede's didn't happen before -in say 2004, 2001 or 1998- or something. Ever hear of the arab saying "That's an excuse that's worse than the crime"? Well, that's exactly what that sounded like. But you are Saudi, so there is no way anyone will hold you accountable for anything, is there? Oh well, as my aunt said: "They died in the Hajj. There is no better death. That's like taking an express-lane to Heaven!" Right? Riiight!