Friday, September 25, 2015
Muslim stupidity: A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj - the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca - has killed more than 700 people and injured nearly 900 others in Saudi Arabia
The stampede occurred during the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in a tent city in Mina, about two miles from the holy site in Mecca, Islam's holiest city. Footage showed a disturbing scene. Bodies piled upon bodies, a few moving, but most appearing lifeless. Workers in hard hats and reflective vests can be seen pulling dead bodies away to get to those who are still alive. Ethar El-Katatney, a pilgrim who was near the stampede site about five hours after the surge happened, said that she walked past ambulances carrying bodies of victims. She said that she saw numerous police officers and medical personnel in the area. "I saw the ambulances, I saw bodies. ... At least 20, 30 ambulances passed me by," she said. Hundreds have been killed in past years during the same ceremony, and it comes only 13 days after a crane collapse killed more than 100 people at another major Islamic holy site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The incident is the deadliest disaster at Mina since 1990, when 1,426 people died. Civil defense authorities said that the latest death toll is 717, with 863 people injured, but the numbers have been climbing steadily. Officials deployed 4,000 workers, along with 220 ambulances and other vehicles, to Mina in response to the disaster. In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in a re-enactment of when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions. In the stampede, pilgrims were walking toward the largest of the pillars when there was a sudden surge in the crowd, causing a large number of people to fall. The ceremony was the scene of stampedes and hundreds of deaths in the 1980s and 1990s as pilgrims passed a crowded bottleneck area leading to the small pillars on the ground. In 2006, a stampede there killed at least 363 people. Losing one's life during the Hajj season is considered by many devout Muslims as an entry to heaven. It was also a tragic day for Muslims in Yemen, where at least 29 people attending Eid prayers died when a bomb went off inside a crowded mosque in Sanaa.