The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that as of this year’s Hajj season, pilgrims will be required to use electronic identification bracelets as part of a safety measure, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. Pilgrims joining Hajj this year will be given bracelets containing personal information so they can be identified if they die in a stampede after 2,000 died last year.
The high-tech safety measure will help authorities in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to provide care 'and identify people' in the event of a disaster. 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.