The death toll this time is expected to rise, said Saudi Arabia’s civil defence directorate.

Tragedies at Hajj in last 25 years has taken more than 3300 lives
news Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 19:43

 

Despite having spent millions trying to improve safety, Saudi authorities are still finding it difficult to control the magnitude of deaths during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. According to authorities, Thursday's stampede in Mina in which over 710 people have died and 805 have been injured, is one of the worst disasters to strike the annual haj pilgrimage.  

The last time Saudi saw such high death-toll was in July 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims crushed to death in a tunnel near Mecca. Both these stampedes occurred on Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Islam's most important feast and the day of the stoning ritual.

A total of 2,788 pilgrims have died since 1990.

At least 346 pilgrims were killed in a stampede on the last day of the Haj in Mina that left many injured on January 12, 2006.

On February 1, 2004, 250 people were killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual, while another 244 were injured in Mina.

Fifteen people were killed during the same stoning ritual on February 11, 2003, while 35 were killed on March 5, 2001, according to the report. 

On April 9, 1998, 118 people were killed in an incident on Jamarat Bridge, and 270 people were killed during the stoning ritual on May 23, 1994.

The death toll this time is expected to rise, said Saudi Arabia’s civil defence directorate.

Videos and photographs of the stampede making rounds on social media showed that the stampede left bodies of victims and injured survivors heaped in piles.

The crush happened in the Mina valley, a few miles outside Mecca, where a sprawling camp of 160,000 tents fills with millions of visitors for a few days each year, said Gaurdian.

 It was caused by two large groups of pilgrims coming together at a crossroads on their way to performing the "stoning the devil" ritual at Jamarat, Saudi civil defense said.

Thursday’s incident was the second deadly disaster in Islam’s holiest city in this month, after a construction crane collapsed on 11 September, killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 200.

The rising death toll would questions safety of the pilgrims during haj pilgrimage when Mecca receives at least 2-3 million people.  

Mina, which is near the holy city of Mecca, has been a particular focus of concerns because thousands of people had died in past stampedes and fires on the cramped streets of the temporary tent city.

The Saudi authorities have expanded the Jamraat Bridge, where pilgrims throw pebbles at three walls in a symbolic stoning of the devil into a multi-storey building with entrance and exit ramps, several times.  However, it has not emerged as a viable solution to this disaster that visits Saudi almost every year.

The head of the Central Hajj Committee, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, blamed the stampede on "some pilgrims from African nationalities," Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV channel reported.

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