Relatives rush to Mina looking for missing Hajis

Updated 26 September 2015

Relatives rush to Mina looking for missing Hajis

MINA: As the news of the tragedy spread around the world on Thursday, the relatives of those who were here for Haj made frantic calls to everyone they knew in Saudi Arabia.
Diplomats, newspaper reporters, photographers and volunteers were flooded with calls from distressed individuals who wanted news of friends and family members in Mina in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The relatives have hung on to every bit of news and every photo and every video that came out of Mina in the last 24 hours.
People took to Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to post photos and tent numbers of their relatives. Many could not reach their relatives in Mina because of the overload on telecom networks when two million pilgrims were trying to make calls at the same time.
The identification of bodies and the injured was itself not difficult but the high number of casualties overwhelmed hospitals.
Throughout the day and night, ambulances were busy taking people to hospitals and, if the doctors declared them dead, to morgues.
Afterward the identification work began in earnest. The first step was to look for the metallic wristbands that pilgrims wear. These wristbands have details about the pilgrim, his/her country of origin and the name of the relevant Haj establishment. Representatives of different countries went to hospitals and ascertained the names of the dead and injured. The lists were then made public.
In cases when there are no identification details, such as no wristband or badge, the thumb impressions of the dead are taken and matched with the database of thumbprints in the Passport Department. All pilgrims have to provide their thumbprints upon arrival in the Kingdom.
Many pilgrims from within the Kingdom are also among the dead. They had come to Haj with domestic Haj operators and in the absence of details, their relatives headed to Mina to check themselves.
Yasin Munawwar and Yawar Ali Khan, two Pakistani expats from Riyadh, arrived in Mina late on Thursday night. Munawwar had come to look for his sister and brother-in law, both of whom were listed as missing. Khan came to search for his brother who had come from Abha.
“They had cell phones but whenever we try to call them, they are unreachable. This has been the case since the tragedy on Thursday,” said Munawwar. “We don’t know what to do. Our relatives in Karachi are worried and have been calling us constantly about about my sister Tahmina and her husband Javed. So I came here to Mina to look for them. I have been visiting hospitals and visiting centers where missing persons are brought. This is our worst nightmare.”
Khan said there is no way his brother would not contact him. “I fear the worst,” he said. “My mind has stopped working. I am completely exhausted because of the stress and this terrible heat,” he told Arab News.
Asrar M. Khan from Riyadh made frantic calls to his friends in Mina about his friend, Muddasir Hussaini, an Indian, who was misising after the tragedy. Late in the night, however, he received the good news from Hussaini himself when he phoned his friends. “He was in the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Thursday after having completed the stoning of the devil early. He was totally oblivious to what had happened in Mina,” said Khan.
Not all stories of missing pilgrims, however, ended on a happy note. Some very sadly ended in morgues.


350,000 books to feature at Jeddah fair

Updated 14 November 2019

350,000 books to feature at Jeddah fair

JEDDAH: Hundreds of authors from around the world are preparing to take part in a prestigious Saudi book festival.

The Jeddah International Book Fair, to be staged in South Obhur from Dec. 11 to 21, will feature more than 350,000 volumes to cater to all reading tastes.

Now in its fifth edition, the cultural event, run under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, will see the participation of 400 Saudi, Arab and international publishing houses from 40 different countries.

Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed, who is head of the fair’s supreme committee, has been coordinating the organization of the event which will include book-signing sessions by 200 authors.

The exhibition, occupying 30,000 square meters, is one of the biggest specialized expos in the Kingdom, and aims to promote reading and the cultural environment.

The fair will also include a program of seminars, lectures and indoor and outdoor theater productions, along with documentary films for families and children, and workshops in visual arts, photography and Arabic calligraphy.

The Jeddah fair is supported by Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, who believes it reflects the city’s culture and traditions, along with backing from Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah. SPA Jeddah