Stampede in Saudi Arabia Hajj; atleast 453 people killed
Atleast 453 people were feared dead and hundreds of others injured in a stampede, on Thursday, near the Muslim holy city of Mecca. The holy city witnessed an estimated 2 million people undertaking the traditional hajj pilgrimage.
The stampede took place in Mina, a tent city located approximately three miles east of Mecca itself. The area is on the main road from the center of Mecca to the Hill of Arafat, revered by Muslims as the place where Muhammad gave his farewell sermon to Muslims who had accompanied him to Mecca near the end of his life.
The circumstances of the stampede was not clear. Pilgrims were walking toward the largest of the pillars when there was a sudden surge in the crowd about 9 a.m., causing a large number of people to fall, however, the day Eid al-Adha, where people throng the holy place to perform rituals also needs to be taken into consideration. In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars — now in a re-enactment of an event when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions. A Muslim is required to take the hajj at least once in their life.
However, stampedes are not so uncommon, in 2006, 364 pilgrims were killed in a stampede at the entrance to a bridge leading to the site in Mina where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. In 2004, 244 people were trampled to death on the final day of the hajj ceremonies.