Second tragedy in 2 weeks: More than 150 dead and 500 injured during Hajj at Mecca!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Mecca, the seat of annual Holy Hajj, performed by global Muslims, is today the site of mourning for the unexpected death of many pilgrims.
As many as 150 pilgrims were killed today the September 24 on Eid al-Adha, in a stampede crush at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, where some two million people are performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Today is Eid al-Adha, celebrated by global Muslims as they slaughter a sheep in memory of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)’s love and reverence for God. It has traditionally been the most dangerous day of Hajj because vast numbers of pilgrims attempt to perform rituals at the same time in a single location.
The mishap occurred when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were taking part in the last major rite of the Hajj, which is to perform stoning of the devil. The symbolic stoning of the devil today coincides with the Eid al-Adha feast of sacrifice marked by the world`s more than 1.5 billion Muslims. 4000 Civil Defense: personnel are handling the incident using more than 220 ambulances and equipment
Saudi Arabia’s civil defence authority said the crush, in which many died and at least 400 others were injured, took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, a few kilometres east of Mecca, where pilgrims stay for several days during the climax of the Holy Hajj.
Street 204 is one of the two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, where pilgrims ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three large pillars.
Pictures of the stampede have been doing the rounds on social media: Photographs published by the civil defence showed pilgrims lying on stretchers while emergency workers in high-visibility jackets lifted them into an ambulance. “Work is underway to separate large groups of people and direct pilgrims to alternative routes,” the Saudi Civil Defence said.
The pilgrimage, the world’s largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of deadly stampedes in the past, as well as other disasters including tent fires and riots. However, massive infrastructure upgrades and extensive spending on crowd control technology over the past two decades had made such events far less common.
The tragedy is the second to hit the kingdom in a fortnight, after the collapse of a construction crane at Mecca’s Grand Mosque earlier this month killed 107 people days before the hajj pilgrimage began.
Rescue operations were under way, the service said, after the stampede in Mina near Mecca, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were taking part in the last major rite of the Holy Hajj.
Every year, millions of Muslims converge on the Saudi holy cities of Mecca and Medina for the annual hajj pilgrimage, with the massive ceremonies representing a major security and logistical challenge for the kingdom’s authorities.
A list of major tragedies taken place at Mecca
At least 150 people are killed and 400 injured in a stampede in Mina, on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca in 2015:. In the lead-up to Hajj, at least 107 people are killed and scores wounded when a crane collapses in bad weather, crashing onto the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. In 2006, more than 360 pilgrims are killed in a stampede at the desert plain of Mina, near Mecca, where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. The day before the hajj began, an eight-story building being used as a hostel near the Grand Mosque in Mecca collapsed, killing at least 73 people; A crush of pilgrims at Mina kills 244 pilgrims and injures hundreds on the final day of the hajj ceremonies in 2004. A stampede at Mina during the final day of the pilgrimage ceremonies kills 35 Hajj pilgrims in 2001:. About 180 pilgrims are trampled to death in panic after several of them fell off an overpass during the final stoning ritual at Mina in 1998: At least 340 pilgrims are killed in a fire at the tent city of Mina as the blaze was aided by high winds. More than 1,500 were injured in 1997: Some 270 pilgrims are killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual at Mina in 1994, The worst hajj-related tragedy claims the lives of 1,426 pilgrims in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Mecca in 1990.