(MENAFN - Arab News) Thirteen Filipino pilgrims injured in a traffic accident on their way to Arafat during the just concluded Haj have been discharged from hospitals.
The accident victims, who included a woman who lost her left arm, could not complete their Haj rituals to their satisfaction. They appealed to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to include them as his guests next year.
Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah had instructed his aides to include 11 of Filipino accident victims in the ministry's Haj caravan. The ministry takes sick and injured pilgrims admitted to hospitals in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites in specially-equipped ambulances and under proper medical care to Arafat.
Standing in Arafat on the ninth day of Dul Hijjah is the most important ritual of Haj. In order to make the Haj valid, every pilgrim needs to spend at least a few moments in prayers at Arafat on this day.
The accident involving the Filipino pilgrims happened while the driver of their bus was talking on his mobile, according to Waleedudeen Mitalicop, the team leader accompanying the group.
"It seems that he had an argument with somebody on phone as his voice was so loud," he told Arab News. He said the bus was overcrowded, carrying 75 passengers against its 50-seat capacity.
"I was leading my group in reciting the supplication 'Labbaik' in a standing position, when the bus suddenly crashed, causing me to fall down," he said.
"The doctor said I would have to undergo surgery on my neck for a fracture. But I declined his offer as I had to return to Manila. I feel pity for those pilgrims who could not make their Haj this year because of the accident. These pilgrims spent a lot of their savings to come to the holy sites in the hope of fulfilling a lifetime dream. But this accident prevented them from completing their rituals."
Hadji Manan P. Alawi, who was leading another group and was also injured in the same incident, told Arab News that the main cause of the accident was reckless driving.
After the accident "we were scattered in hospitals in Makkah and I am very sad to say that none of the Philippine Embassy staff visited us," Alawi said. He said one of their major concerns is that some of the pilgrims would not be able to perform their Tawaf Al-Ifada, the mandatory circumambulation of the Kaaba for Haj to become valid.
The injured (all from Lanao) include Noronisa Lumodag Kadalay who lost her left arm, Simpano Macarampat, Mariam Mamakol, Maisarah Binito, Aminah Magantor, Rasmiah Macarimbang, Nasruden Malawad, Norhya Malawad, Salimonah Mipantas, Simpaolan Dimaronsing, Macarimbang Banaona, Morimona Mato and Naga Lingto.
Alawi told Arab News that such reckless drivers should not be allowed to work during Haj. He said the bus driver was playing with the lives of pilgrims by using his mobile while speeding in an overcrowded bus.
He said on their arrival on Oct. 18 the pilgrims were also stopped at the airport for more than 22 hours without food because of a payment issue.
Meanwhile, the group expressed thanks to Health Minister Al-Rabeeah for the medical care provided to them. Following the accident they were transferred by Saudi Red Crescent ambulances, while four, one of them in critical condition, were moved by helicopter.