One Chinese national has been killed in Thursday’s Hajj stampede in Mecca, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed.
The victim was a 50-year-old ethnic Hui woman from Gansu province by the name of Zaleha, according to the Islamic Association of China.
She was not officially a part of the 14,000-strong Chinese delegation and had reportedly made her own way to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage without having received an official hajj permit from Saudi authorities.
Pilgrims from Ningxia province pray for the souls of the 111 victims of the Mecca crane collapse on September 11.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of “unofficial” pilgrims make their way to Mecca for the hajj season, many of them too poor to afford approved hajj travel packages. Saudi authorities have responded by imposing strict penalties for those found performing the pilgrimage without permits.
The death toll from the stampede has risen from 717 to about 2,000, says Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, citing Saudi sources.
The figure has not yet been confirmed by the Saudi government.
Li Chengwen, China’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, traveled to Mecca in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
State media reports say he has been making visits to local hospitals to ascertain the number of Chinese pilgrims injured in the stampede.