Stampede at Mina kills 717 Haj pilgrims, leaves 805 injured
24 Sep 2015
A stampede at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Makkah, has resulted in the death of at least 717 Haj pilgrims and has left another 805 injured on Thursday, in one of the worst Haj-related accidents.
The stampede took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, a few kilometres east of Makkah, where pilgrims stay for several days during the climax of the Haj.
Thursday's stampede at Mina involved some two million people performing the stonning of the satan during the annual Haj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia's civil defence authority said.
Three Indians are feared to be among the victims, according to India's ministry of external affairs. At least one Indian who died in the Haj stampede has been identified. A CNN IBN report said 60-year-old Bibi Jan from Hyderabad was killed in the Mecca stampede on Thursday.
The ministry of external affairs also tweeted emergency helpline numbers: ''Our emergency Nos in Makkah continue to remain open: 00966125458000 00966125496000 Toll free number for pilgrims in Kingdom: 8002477786.''
Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted: ''Distressing news from Mecca. Pained at loss of lives due to the stampede. Condolences to families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.''
The injured have been evacuated to four different hospitals in the Mina region, Al Jazeera quoted a civil defence spokesman as saying.
Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. It also houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.
The Haj pilgrimage, the world's largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of deadly disasters in the past, including stampedes, tent fires and riots.
The last major incident in Haj took place in 2006, when at least 346 pilgrims were killed as they attempted to perform the stoning of the devil at Jamarat.
However, massive infrastructure upgrades and extensive spending on crowd control technology over the past two decades had made such events far less common.
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.
This is the second major disaster at Mecca this month after over 100 people were killed on September 12, when a construction crane crashed on the Grand Mosque (See: Indians among 107 killed in Saudi crane crash).