Tuesday, December 1, 2009
UMAT ISLAM SELAMAT MENUNAIKAN HAJI
01/12/2009 11:00:00 PM GMT
(AFP) Nearly three million pilgrims wound up the soul-searching journey of hajj.
MAKKAH — Without major incidents or mass swine flu outbreak, nearly three million pilgrims wound up Monday, November 30, the soul-searching journey of hajj.
“It is my pleasure to announce that this year’s Hajj was safe and successful with no infectious disease outbreaks,” said Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeah, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
“Our safety precautions have secured a very successful and safe Hajj for pilgrims from around the world.”
Saudi Arabia has mounted a concerted campaign to minimize the threat of swine flu outbreak during hajj.
Heat-sensing cameras were set up at airports and around the main hajj sites to detect anyone with a feverish body temperature.
Riyadh has also mobilized 20,000 health workers for the ritual.
Hajj saw only five swine flu fatalities and 73 recorded cases.
The deceased – from India, Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan, and Nigeria -- had other ailments, including heart disease and cancer, which left them more vulnerable to swine flu, health officials said.
Rabeeah said there had been no other serious health problems during the six-day ritual.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an obligation for all able-bodied, financially capable Muslims at least once in a lifetime.
Thousands of pilgrims in a hurry to return home completed their hajj rituals on Saturday.
This year’s hajj also saw no major incidents.
“Our plan emphasized on reinforcing preventive measures," said Suleiman Al-Amro, commander of Civil Defense’ Hajj operations.
He said the precautionary measures included a thorough calculation of all possible dangers through monitoring, sensing and analyzing of risks.
"This is why we did not see any major events affecting the safety and security of pilgrims.”
The third and the most crucial day of the stoning ritual passed peacefully on Sunday, thanks to a huge five-storey Jamarat Bridge designed to avoid crowding.
The site was the scene of several panics in past years that left hundreds dead.
“Everything went according to plan and we have had no untoward incident at the Jamrat,” said an Interior Ministry spokesman.
The pilgrims were followed by helicopters and high-tech cameras to prevent any serious incidents during the ritual.
“The arrangements were excellent and great care was taken to avoid the massing of pilgrims on the Jamarat Bridge which has been a scene of tragedy on numerous occasions in the past.”
The pilgrims were thankful for their safe hajj this year.
“I thank Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on behalf of the government of Pakistan, for ensuring best available services to the guests of Allah," said Pakistan’s Director of Hajj, Behrullah Hazarvi, describing the Saudi arrangements as “excellent.”
"Most of our pilgrims followed the Jamarat time schedule and had no difficulties.”