Daily VideoSeptember 25, 2015
Hundreds die in Hajj pilgrim stampede
More than 700 people died in a stampede that took place near the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
What should have been a joyous and holy end to Hajj resulted in tragedy as bodies of the dead and injured piled up in the street following the collision of two large groups of pilgrims on a crowded road leading to a holy site.
The incident happened at a crossroads in a tent city outside Mecca. Worshippers were headed towards Al Jamarat to perform the stoning of the Devil ritual by symbolically throwing pebbles at large stone columns.
Pilgrims panicked and began pushing one another. Some fell to the ground and were trampled underneath, according to one survivor. “I was about to die,” she said.
Rescue crews struggled to reach the site and transport the injured to hospitals through crowded streets. Some were removed via helicopter and reports stated that bodies still filled the streets hours later.
Less than two weeks ago, a construction crane collapsed into the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing more than 100 people and injuring another 400.
The Saudis have spent billions to manage traffic flow and employ 100,000 security soldiers to ensure the safety of the millions of pilgrims migrating to the area each year. A similar incident in 1990 left 1,400 people dead after a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel.
Normally, one-way roads and traffic signals surrounding the holy sites prevent crowds from clashing in this way. Authorities said they will investigate what happened to allow this incident to take place.
Warm up questions
- Who is the Prophet Muhammad and what does he mean to Islam?
- Where is Mecca?
- Why is Mecca important to Islam?
- What happens there each year?
Critical thinking questions
- Given the millions of Muslims that visit Mecca each year, what should the Saudi authorities do to prevent incidents like this from happening?
- What other challenges besides crowd control do the Saudis have to deal with each year in Mecca?
- Do you think this tragedy will keep people from performing the Hajj? Why or why not?
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