Local Muslims react to tragedy in Saudi Arabia

By: Rebecca Turco, The Associated Press

Email: rturco@abc6.com

MECCA, Saudi Arabia – The Saudi king has expressed his condolences after a horrific stampede killed more than 700 pilgrims and injured hundreds more on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca.            

King Salman is also promising a speedy investigation into the second major disaster to strike during this year’s pilgrimage season. A crane collapse in Mecca less than two weeks ago killed 111 people.

Local Muslims are trying to make sense of the tragedy. For some, it hits very close to home. Providence woman Wosilat Ibiyemi’s husband made the pilgrimage with around 30 other locals, but he wasn’t in the area at the time.

“I am so happy my husband is alive and I pray for all of the people that lost their family,” she told ABC6 News.

The Saudi Interior Ministry says today’s deadly crush of pilgrims appears to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.

Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and the fatigue of the pilgrims might also have been factors in Thursday’s disaster, the deadliest event to afflict the hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades.

Some 2 million people take part in the annual hajj pilgrimage, which all able-bodied Muslims are required to undertake at least once in their lives.

© WLNE-TV, The Associated Press 2015