121 lambs from Ireland die on flight

Rest of 1,700 lambs flown in for Hari Raya Haji healthy and cleared for consumption

More than 100 of 1,700 lambs flown in from Ireland for today's Hari Raya Haji celebration were found dead after arriving at the Changi Airport Cargo Terminal early yesterday morning .

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, which was on hand to inspect the 1,704 animals, began investigations into the incident on site after it was found that 121 had died during the flight. Findings indicated that heat stress was the cause of the deaths and there was no sign of infectious disease. The remaining lambs are healthy and their meat is suitable for consumption.

The lambs were imported for the korban, the annual ritual slaughter of livestock held in conjunction with Hari Raya Haji.

Intradco Cargo Service, the company that delivered the shipment, is cooperating with the authorities in their investigations.

Referring to the incident in a Facebook post, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said: "Despite this, the Singapore Mosques Korban Committee (JKMS) has given the assurance that all who have pledged to do the korban this year will be able to do so."

Muslims who had earlier ordered the lambs, which cost $556 each, for the korban will be given the choice of either having the slaughter performed for them in Australia within the next few days, or having the amount spent on purchasing the lambs refunded.

  • Korban in S'pore

    •The Singapore Mosques Korban Committee sources sheep from countries approved by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

    •Muslims here place orders for sheep to be sacrificed, with mosques carrying out the korban in their area.

    •All korban centres must meet animal welfare and food hygiene standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health and AVA.

    •The slaughter is conducted only by trained individuals and must meet religious requirements, which include not abusing the animal and not killing it in front of other animals

    •Following the slaughter, the meat is packed and distributed, with a third going to the needy, a third to family and friends. The last third can be eaten by the one ordering the slaughter. It can also be given away to others.

Those who choose to have the korban done in Australia will have the meat delivered to them.

It is not known how many people are affected.

The 1,867 sheep brought in from Australia for the korban were not affected and have been transported to 13 mosques here after arriving on Sept 9. In 2014, 174 sheep imported from Australia died mid-flight due to heat stress.

The korban will be performed at 26 mosques islandwide as well as two Malay/Muslim organisations, the Muhammadiyah Association and Jamiyah, beginning today.

Some of the meat from the slaughter will be distributed to the needy.

"All centres, regardless of whether they are handling livestock from Australia or Ireland, will adopt the same high level of standards to ensure that korban operations will be carried out smoothly," said JKMS chairman Saat Matari.

Muslims believe the korban commemorates the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. In recognition of Abraham's obedience, God replaced Ishmael with a ram.

The assistant director in the office of the Mufti at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, Ustaz Irwan Hadi Mohd Shuhaimy, said the practice aims to promote "a sense of gratitude and appreciation".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline '121 lambs from Ireland die on flight'. Subscribe