MAKKAH: The deadly stampede at the Haj in Mina on Thursday has become the second worst in a number of tragedies to strike the pilgrimage, surpassed only by a tunnel stampede 25 years ago.
As of the latest count by the Directorate for Civil Defense, the death toll in Thursday’s stampede has jumped to 717 and 865 more were injured, some critically.
The worst ever was in July 2, 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims, mainly from Asia, died as they stampeded in a tunnel at Mina after a ventilation system failure.
Third worst was in July 31, 1987, when Saudi security forces suppressed rampaging Iranian pilgrims. More than 400 people, including 275 Iranians were killed, according to an official toll.
Coming in fourth was another stampede on January 12, 2006, killing 364 pilgrims during the stoning ritual in Mina. Six days before that, 76 people died when a hotel collapsed in downtown Makkah.
In an uncanny similarity, this year’s stampede was also preceded by another tragedy in Makkah. A total of 111 and more than 400 people, including foreign pilgrims, were killed when a crane collapsed on the circumambulation area of the Grand Mosque amid strong winds and heavy rain on September 11.
The fifth worst was on April 15 when a fire caused by a gas stove ripped through a camp housing pilgrims at Mina, killing 343 and injuring around 1,500.
Below is a timeline compiled by Agence France Presse (AFP) of significant incidents during the annual event, which draws around two million Muslim faithful from around the world.
September 24: A stampede during the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina leaves at least 717 pilgrims dead and over 860 injured.
September 11: 109 people are killed and hundreds injured, including many foreigners, when a crane collapses on Makkah’s Grand Mosque after strong winds and heavy rain.
January 6: 76 people die when a hotel collapses in the city center.
January 12: 364 pilgrims are killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina. The ritual involves Haj participants throwing pebbles at three headstones, symbolizing their rejection of Satan.
January 22: Three pilgrims are crushed to death in a stampede at the stoning ceremony in Mina.
February 1: 251 people are killed in a stampede at Mina, also at the stoning of the devil.
February 11: 14 faithful, including six women, die on the first day of the stoning ritual.
March 5: 35 pilgrims, including 23 women, die at the ritual in Mina.
April 9: More than 118 people are killed and 180 injured in a stampede at Mina.
April 15: A fire caused by a gas stove rips through a camp housing pilgrims at Mina, killing 343 and injuring around 1,500.
May 7: Three people die and 99 are injured when a fire breaks out at the Mina camp.
May 24: 270 people are killed in a stampede during the stoning, an incident authorities attribute to “record numbers” of pilgrims at the site.
July 2: A huge stampede in a tunnel at Mina after a failure in its ventilation system kills 1,426 pilgrims, mainly from Asia.
July 10: A twin attack on the outside of the Grand Mosque kills one and wounds 16. Sixteen Kuwaiti Shiites are found guilty of the crime and executed weeks later.
July 31: Saudi security forces suppress an unauthorized protest held by Iranian pilgrims. More than 400 people, including 275 Iranians are killed, according to an official toll.
November 20: Hundreds of gunmen opposed to the Saudi government barricade themselves inside the Grand Mosque, taking dozens of pilgrims hostage. The official toll of the assault and subsequent fighting is 153 people dead and 560 wounded.
December: A huge fire started by a gas cannister exploding in a pilgrim camp close to Makkah kills 200 people.