Thursday, 20 December 2007
By Abdullah Al-Hariri and Adel Al-Malki
MINA - The first day of stoning ritual passed off without any untoward incident, Wednesday.
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Makkah Emir, said no major traffic or security incidents had taken place and no epidemic cases were reported.
This was the first real test for the third phase of the expansion project of the Jamrat which completed just few weeks ahead of this year's Haj. Authorities have built a third level on to the bridge complex to ease the pressure, allowing more than 200,000 pilgrims an hour to cast pebbles.
The three Jamarat pillars have been extended and turned into a large wall.
"We did our mission effectively," said Khaled Al-Shahrani, one of the security forces official, waving his hands urging pilgrims to move on.
"Alhamdulillah, as you see the situation now, it is really a huge project," he told the Saudi Gazette.
Ministry of Interior deployed more than 7,000 security personnel Wednesday to organize the flow of pilgrims. The number will be increased in the next two days to more than 10,000 security men.
Pilgrim batches, which came to the Jamrat area, were organized as there were seven gates leading to the bridge.
Tawafa offices cooperated with other government agencies as they managed the flow of pilgrims according to their allotted time.
Civil Defense personnel on the ground and its helicopters hovering overhead monitored the pilgrims' traffic.
Red Crescent ambulances were ready to deal with any emergency.
The Ministry of Health said 227,710 patients reported to hospitals and health centers in Makkah and the holy places.
According to the daily statement of the ministry, 60,515 patients reported at the health centers in Makkah and the holy places Tuesday. The health facilities in Arafat and Muzdalifah received up to 752 patients.
Sumayya, a Pakistani lady, delivered a child at one of the hospitals of the holy sites. The parents called their newly born child Ibrahim.
Director of Public Security Lt. General Saeed Al-Qahtani said no criminal cases were reported at the command and control center.
He said the traffic movement on all roads leading to the Jamrat zone went smoothly as planned.
He said the security men were preventing pilgrims from staying along the roads leading to the Jamrat zone. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, said the pilgrims journey to Mina was successful. "We registered no accidents and everything was perfect," Al-Turki said.
After the three main duties on Wednesday - the stoning ritual, the shaving and the sacrifice - pilgrims shaved their head and came out of the state of Ihram.
The two pieces of white cloth they put on when they went into a state of ritual purity on Monday morning.
Barbers set up shop in the street to shave the heads of pilgrims. Other pilgrims made do with a severe haircut, often carried out in the street with nail scissors plied by a friend or relative.