NEWS

Hajj Pilgrimage: At Least 717 Killed And 805 Injured In Crush Outside Mecca

24/09/2015 09:36 | Updated 25 September 2015

The death toll from the Hajj pilgrimage outside Mecca has reached 717 making it the worst stampede death toll since 1990 when 1,400 died.

Saudi Arabia's civil defence is now saying the death toll is 717, and a further 805 pilgrims were injured. The deaths have been blamed on "mismanagement", with claims that security forces blocked one of four pathways.

The UK Foreign Office said it was in contact with the local authorities and was urgently seeking more information about whether British nationals were involved. It is thought as many as 25,000 British Muslims attend the event.

The deaths occurred in Mina, where two million people are gathered for the annual pilgrimage which began on Tuesday. The deaths, according to Al Jazeera correspondent Basma Atassi occurred between pilgrims' camps, rather than in the Jamarat, the area where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls.

hajj pilgrimage

At least 717 pilgrims are said to have died during a stampede at the Hajj pilgrimage

Mina is a large valley about five kilometers from Mecca and houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.

Photos released by the directorate on its official Twitter account showed rescue workers in orange and yellow vests helping the wounded onto stretchers and loading them onto ambulances near some of the white tents.

The Saudi civil defence directorate said on Twitter that 4,000 personnel had been sent to the scene of Thursday's stampede, along with more than 220 emergency and rescue units. The injured are being taken to four hospitals in the area.

The stampede death toll has surpassed the 2006 tragedy that claimed 360 lives in the same area, but is still a long way off the stampede in 1990 when 1,400 died in a tunnel.

It is a religious duty for able-bodied Muslims to complete the hajj – one of the five pillars of Islam – at least once. The rituals involved in the pilgrimage are intended to cleanse the soul and promote the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood within Islam.

Al Jazeera's Omar Alsaleh, reporting from Mecca, said the number of deaths may rise.

He said: "This is only the initial number ... The Hajj season was already overshadowed by the crane accident that killed 107 people and wounded more than 200. That area has turned to a big massive construction site to allow more pilgrims to visit Mecca during Hajj."

Earlier this month a construction crane collapsed in Mecca killing more than 100 and injuring at least 200.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the collapse amid claims the proper safeguards are ignored in the race to complete developments surrounding the Grand Mosque, The Guardian reported. Among the projects under construction is a 10,000-bed hotel.

Last week, more than 1000 pilgrims were evacuated from a hotel in Mecca in the early hours of the morning after a fire broke out.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this image posted on the official Twitter account of the directorate of the Saudi Civil Defense agency, rescuers respond to a stampede that killed and injured pilgrims in the holy city of Mina during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. Hundreds were killed and injured, Saudi authorities said.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this image posted on the official Twitter account of the directorate of the Saudi Civil Defense agency, a pilgrim is treated by a medic after a stampede that killed and injured pilgrims in the holy city of Mina during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira mosque in Arafat, on the second and most significant day of the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira mosque in Arafat, on the second and most significant day of the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims pray outside Namira mosque in Arafat, on the second and most significant day of the annual hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims pray on a rocky hill called the Mountain of Mercy, on the Plain of Arafat, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 during the hajj pilgrimage.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims walk after casting stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims make their way to cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims walk after casting stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims observe as others cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims walk after casting stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.
  • Mideast Saudi Arabia Hajj
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Muslim pilgrims make their way to cast stones at a pillar symbolizing the stoning of Satan, in a ritual called "Jamarat," the last rite of the annual hajj, on the first day of Eid al-Adha, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.

Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS