At least 310 killed, 450 injured in Haj stampede at Mina
MINA: At least 310 pilgrims were killed on Thursday in a crush at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Makkah, where some two million people are performing Haj, the Saudi civil defence directorate reported.
The civil defence service Tweeted saying that 450 people were injured in the incident.
Television reports quoted Director-General (DG) Haj as saying that seven Pakistani had also lost their lives during the tragic incident.
DG haj added that two Pakistanis had been rescued after the stampede, according to the reports.
Rescue operations are under way and an emergency has been declared in all nearby hospitals. At least 4,000 emergency personnel and 220 ambulances are taking part in the rescue operations, the service said.
Helicopters were flying over the area and the sirens of dozens of ambulances could be heard, AFP reporters said.
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.
Teams on the ground are leading pilgrims away from the stampede, to safety, by means of alternate routes, the civil defence service said.
The stampede occurred at Mina’s street number 204. Mina is a large valley about five kilometres from the holy city of Makkah. The valley houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage. Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls.
The incident took place near Maktib Number 93 where mostly Algerian pilgrims are staying, according to a report on the Radio Pakistan website.
Information regarding the well-being of Pakistani pilgrims is being collected, the Foreign Office said. The Pakistani Embassy is in touch with Saudi authorities in this regard, Radio Pakistan reported.
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the tragic incident.
Premier Nawaz Sharif directed Pakistan’s Ambassador in Saudia Arabia to “visit the injured at the hospitals and facilitate the injured and the martyred as much as possible”.
Tweets from the civil defence service showed rescue operations under way at the scene.
The Haj pilgrimage this year was undeterred by a crane collapse in Makkah earlier this month that killed 111 people and injured nearly 400 at Islam’s holiest site.
Previously marred by stampedes and fires that killed hundreds, Haj has been largely incident-free for the past decade after safety improvements.
Deadly Haj-related incidents during the past three decades
- 1990: The worst Haj-related tragedy claims the lives of 1,426 pilgrims in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Makkah.
- 1994: Some 270 pilgrims are killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual at Mina.
- 1997: At least 340 pilgrims are killed in a fire at the tent city of Mina as the blaze was aided by high winds. More than 1,500 were injured.
- 1998: About 180 pilgrims are trampled to death in panic after several of them fell off an overpass during the final stoning ritual at Mina.
- 2001: A stampede at Mina during the final day of the pilgrimage ceremonies kills 35 Haj pilgrims.
- 2004: A crush of pilgrims at Mina kills 244 pilgrims and injures hundreds on the final day of the Haj ceremonies.
- 2006: More than 360 pilgrims are killed in a stampede at the desert plain of Mina, near Makkah, where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. The day before the Haj began, an eight-story building being used as a hostel near the Grand Mosque in Makkah collapsed, killing at least 73 people.
- 2015: At least 111 people killed and nearly 400 wounded during a crane accident at Makkah’s Grand Mosque Islam’s holiest site.