Hajj stampede: VK Singh heads to Saudi Arabia for helping Indian nationals
New Delhi: Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh is being rushed to Saudi Arabia to coordinate with the authorities there to trace the missing Indians in the Haj stampede last month.
Singh has been asked by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to leave tonight after Saudi government informed India that it will be interacting with individual countries regarding their nationals -both dead or missing.
The Minister of State will coordinate with the local authorities and strengthen the efforts of Consul General there.
"Haj Stampede -General V K Singh, MOS External affairs is going to Saudi Arabia today to help Indian nationals," Swaraj later tweeted.
Yesterday, Swaraj had tweeted that India has lost 58 nationals in the stampede while 78 were still missing.
The Minister said the government was making every effort to locate its people.
According to Saudi authorities, 769 Muslim pilgrims were killed in a stampede at the annual Haj near the holy city of Mecca on September 24. As per reports, tallies of the dead from foreign officials and media put the toll at 1,036.
The stampede broke out after two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other at an intersection close to the five-storey Jamarat Bridge in Mina for symbolic stoning of the devil.
It was the second major accident this year for pilgrims, after a construction crane collapsed on September 11 at Mecca's Grand Mosque, killing over 100 people,including 11 Indians.