September 24, 2015

In the deadliest incident to occur in over 25 years, today 717 fatalities and 863 inujries were reported thus far at the Hajj. One of the five pillars of Islam is the Hajj: the once in a lifetime pilgrimage that the faithful must make. The BBC reports:

Preparations for the Hajj were marred (September 11) when a crane collapsed at Mecca's Grand Mosque this month, killing 109 people.

During the Hajj, pilgrims travel to Mina, a large valley about 5km (3 miles) from Mecca, to throw seven stones at pillars called Jamarat, which represent the devil.
The pillars stand where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.

People were going towards the direction of throwing the stones while others were coming from the opposite direction. Then it became chaotic and suddenly people started going down. There were people from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Senegal among other nationalities. People were just climbing on top of others in order to move to a safer place and that's how some people died.

People were chanting Allah's name while others were crying, including children and infants. People fell on the ground seeking help but there was no-one to give them a helping hand. Everybody seemed to be on their own.

"I saw someone trip over someone in a wheelchair and several people tripping over him," Abdullah Lotfy, from Egypt, told Associated Press. "People were climbing over one another just to breathe."

"Dead bodies stretch as far as my eyes can see," said Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi, the BBC's Abuja editor, who is in Mina.

The civil defence directorate said the victims were of "different nationalities", without providing details.

The Hajj is no stranger to tragedy. Here are a few from recent years.

Credit: BBC

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