Death toll in Hajj disaster in Mecca continues to climb

The number of people killed in the stampede in Mecca has been revised sharply upwards to 717. Over 800 people have been injured.

The tragedy took place when tens of thousands of people panicked for an as-yet-unknown reason and surged forwards in Mina, on the outskirts of the holy shrine.

In the tightly-packed and closed-off pedestrian walkways leading into Mecca in the interests of crowd control one-way systems operate, leaving people with nowhere to go but forwards.

Thursday is a day when many of the over two million pilgrims attending the annual event are on the move, heading for the “stoning of the devil” ceremony at Jamarat.

Police say the stampede was triggered when two large groups met at a crossroads on street 204 a few kilometres east of the city itself.

Despite spending billion of euros in recent years to improve and upgrade Hajj infrastructure following a number of similar disasters, public safety remains a sensitive political issue for the Saudi Arabian authorities.

Previous tragedies at Mecca:

  • January 2006: 346 pilgrims killed and 289 injured in the “stoning of the devil” at Mina, during the last day of Hajj.
  • February 2004: 251 people killed and 244 injured during a ritual at Mina.
  • April 1998: around 180 pilgrims trampled to death, panic broke out after many fell from an overpass.
  • April 1997: 343 pilgrims killed and 1,500 injured in a fire in an overcrowded tent at Mina.
  • July 1990: 1,426 people killed, mainly Pakistani and Indonesian pilgrims, in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel connecting Mecca, Mina and Arafat.
  • July 1987: 402 pilgrims killed and thousands injured in a clash between Iranian demonstrators and Saudi security forces.
  • December 1975: 200 pilgrims killed in a fire in a tent colony.


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