History of tragedies and disruptions at hajj
Conflicts, sieges and pandemics have disrupted or forced the cancellation of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca down the years from at least the eighth century.
onflicts, sieges and pandemics have disrupted or forced the cancellation of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca down the years from at least the eighth century.
It is believed that the hajj was last completely cancelled in 1798, when Napoleon’s invasion of the region made it unsafe for pilgrims to travel to Mecca.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced Saudi Arabia to drastically curtail the event which starts Wednesday, with only up to 10,000 people residing in the kingdom allowed to participate — barring millions of international pilgrims for the first time in modern history.
Here is a timeline of more recent incidents that have disrupted or overshadowed the hajj:
– 2015 –
September 24: A stampede during the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina, near Mecca, kills up to 2,300 worshippers in the worst hajj disaster ever.
That comes after more than 100 people are killed and hundreds injured, including many foreigners, when stormy weather topples a crane onto Mecca’s Grand Mosque less than two weeks before the pilgrimage.
– 2006 –
January 12: A stampede kills 364 pilgrims during the Mina stoning ritual, in which hajj participants throw pebbles at three headstones to symbolise their rejection of Satan.
It follows a hotel collapse a week earlier in the city centre that killed 76 people.
– 2005 –
January 22: Three pilgrims are crushed to death in a stampede at the stoning ceremony.
– 2004 –
February 1: A stampede kills 251 people at the stoning ceremony.
– 2003 –
February 11: Fourteen faithful, including six women, die on the first day of the stoning ritual.
– 2001 –
March 5: At least 35 pilgrims, including 23 women, die at the ritual in Mina.
– 1998 –
April 9: More than 118 people are killed and 180 injured in a stampede at Mina.
– 1997 –
April 15: A fire caused by a gas stove rips through a camp housing pilgrims at Mina, killing 343 and injuring around 1,500.
– 1995 –
May 7: Three people die and 99 are injured in a fire at the Mina camp.
– 1994 –
May 24: A stampede during the Mina stoning kills 270 people, with authorities blaming “record numbers” of pilgrims.
– 1990 –
July 2: A tunnel ventilation system fails, triggering a huge stampede that kills 1,426 pilgrims, mainly from Asia.
– 1989 –
July 10: A twin attack on the outside of the Grand Mosque kills one and wounds 16. Weeks later 16 Kuwaiti Shiites are found guilty and executed.
– 1987 –
July 31: Saudi security forces suppress an unauthorised protest by Iranian pilgrims. More than 400 people including 275 Iranians are killed, according to an official toll.
– 1979 –
November 20: Hundreds of gunmen opposed to the Saudi government barricade themselves inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque, taking dozens of pilgrims hostage. The official toll of the assault and subsequent fighting is 153 dead and 560 wounded.
– 1975 –
December: A huge fire started by a gas canister exploding in a pilgrim camp close to Mecca kills 200 people.