RIYADH: Muslim pilgrims joining this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia will have to wear an electronic safety bracelet, newspapers reported Friday, after more than 2,000 died in a stampede last year.
The high-tech safety measure will help authorities provide care “and identify people”, the Arab News and Saudi Gazette reported.
At least 2,297 pilgrims died during the stampede on September 24 during last year’s hajj, according to data from foreign officials, some of whom expressed concerns about difficulty in identifying the victims. Saudi Arabia issued a death toll of 769.
It was the worst disaster in hajj history. The bracelets are water resistant, connected to a GPS location system, and store each pilgrim’s personal information including address and medical records, the newspapers said.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister who also chairs the hajj committee, ordered a probe immediately after the stampede disaster last year but there has been no word on its findings.
The tragedy happened as pilgrims made their way in searing temperatures to the Jamarat, the place where they ritually stone the devil in the city of Mina in western Saudi Arabia.
The hajj and lesser umrah pilgrimages bring millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia every year. In another safety measure, more than 800 surveillance cameras have been installed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, the Saudi Gazette reported this month. –AFP