Another tragedy struck in Mecca as 717 persons died and hundreds got injured at a stampede.
Few weeks after 109 persons died in a crane mishap, another tragedy has struck in Mecca with 717 persons reported dead and hundreds injured in a stampede.
Al Arabiya reported that the stampede occurred in the city of Mina at the entrance to the Jamarat Bridge at about 9 a.m. local time. The bridge is where the “stoning of the devil,” one of the last major rites of the Hajj is performed.
Bodies of pilgrims wearing traditional white clothing were left scattered by the crush, surrounded by discarded shoes, flattened water bottles and umbrellas that had been used for protection from the sun.
The Saudi Civil Defense Directorate said on Twitter that 4,000 emergency personnel and more than 220 emergency and rescue teams were sent to the scene of the stampede. Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned Arabic language broadcaster, reported that the injured were taken to four hospitals in Mina; some were flown by helicopter to Mecca, which is a few miles away.
Nearly two million people from across the globe were attending the hajj, one of the largest annual gatherings in the world.
In a statement, the Saudi Civil Defense Directorate said the stampede occurred after a “sudden increase” in the number of pilgrims to the pillars where the rite is performed, resulting “in a stampede among the pilgrims and the collapse of a large number of them.”
Khaled al-Falih, the Saudi health minister, said pilgrims had failed to follow directions.
Many pilgrims move without respecting the timetables. If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided.
Iran said at least 43 of its citizens were dead and accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors that caused the accident. A Sudanese pilgrim in Mina also said this year’s hajj was the most poorly organised of four he had attended.
President Buhari has called on the Nigerian embassy in Saudi Arabia to secure the safety of Nigerians in Mecca. However, we are yet to know weather any Nigerian was involved in the tragic incident in Mecca.