Mecca Haj Stampede: Deadliest in 25 years, More than 700 Pilgrims Dead

Credit: Saudi civil defense/Twitter

Credit: Saudi civil defense/Twitter

At least 717 people were killed and 815 others injured in a stampede at Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca, on Thursday, Saudi Arabian officials said. The incident happened at 9 a.m. local time, at an intersection near Mina, about nine miles east of Mecca, where large numbers of people were moving forward to perform the ritual known as “stoning the devil” as part of the annual Haj pilgrimage.

According to a Facebook statement by Saudi Civil Defense authorities, two large sections of people arrived at an intersection between 204 and 221 crosses leading to a push forward resulting in a stampede. Photographs published by the Saudi authorities showed Red Crescent volunteers shifting the injured into the hospital and authorities taking control of the situation.

Thursday marked the first day of Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays in the Muslim calendar, and about 2 million pilgrims from around the world have gathered to perform the annual Muslim holy Haj– known as the world’s largest regular migration of people —  at Mecca.

Stampedes that killed hundreds have occurred in the past occasions of Haj. In 1990, more than 1400 people died in a stampede in a tunnel linking Mina to the holy city, while  more than 100 people were killed and more than 400 others injured  in a crane collapse in Mecca, earlier this month.

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