Drones keep a watch over 2mn pilgrims
September 11 2016 11:45 PM
An aerial view of the Jamarat area in Mina where the symbolic ‘stoning of Satan’ ritual takes place.
An aerial view of the Jamarat area in Mina where the symbolic ‘stoning of Satan’ ritual takes place.

Reuters/Makkah

Saudi authorities deployed drones to watch over nearly 2mn pilgrims as they ascended Mount Arafat at the climax of the Haj pilgrimage yesterday, part of stepped up efforts to avoid a repeat of last year’s crush.
In 2015 crush two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometres east of Makkah, on their way to performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual at Jamarat.
The Saudi authorities redesigned the Jamarat area after two stampedes, one in 2004 and one in 2006, killed hundreds of pilgrims, and the frequency of such disasters has greatly reduced as the government spent billions of dollars upgrading and expanding Haj infrastructure and crowd control technology.
The Haj ministry has said it had prepared a strict timetable for pilgrims from various countries to follow when leaving and returning to their accommodation.
Authorities have also deployed drones to reinforce a network of electronic surveillance of the crowds that would alert authorities to intervene quickly if necessary.
Saudi state news agency SPA said that Crown Prince Mohamed Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, who is also the interior minister, supervised oversight as pilgrims used buses, trains and private cars to move from their encampments in Mina to Mount Arafat.
So far, things have proceeded smoothly, SPA added.




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