Haj stampede – 220 dead earlier today

September 24th, 2015 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

At least 220 pilgrims were killed on Thursday in a crush at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Makkah, where some two million people are performing the annual haj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia’s civil defence authority said.

At least 450 others were injured in the crush, which 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.

The pilgrimage, the world’s largest annual gathering of people, has inevitably been the scene of deadly disasters in the past, including stampedes, tent fires and riots but still remains a tragedy that will blight the memory of such an important event in the life of those faithful attending.

Massive infrastructure upgrades and extensive spending on crowd control technology over the past two decades had made such events far less common.

Photographs published on the civil defence Twitter feed showed pilgrims lying on stretchers while emergency workers in high-visibility jackets lifted them into an ambulance. More than 220 ambulances and 4,000 rescue workers had been sent to the stampede’s location to help the wounded. Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television channel showed a convoy of ambulances driving through the Mina camp.

Thursday is Eid al-Adha, when Muslims slaughter a sheep. It has traditionally been the most dangerous day of the haj when vast numbers of pilgrims attempt to perform rituals at the same time in a single location.

Whatever your faith remember them in you prayers.

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