Haj, the annual pilgrimage undertaken by Muslims across the world to Saudi Arabia's Mecca, has turned into a tragedy this year, following a spate of accidents that claimed over 500 lives and injured several pilgrims.
On the day of Eid al Adha on Thursday, at least 450 pilgrims were crushed to death as a stampede broke out in Mina near Mecca. Nearly 700 people were injured in the incident.
The incident comes even as Saudi Arabia took all precautions to ensure the Haj pilgrimage is not hampered by accidents or terror attacks, especially after the deadly crane crash on 11 September, in which 111 pilgrims were killed and 394 injured.
Fast winds brought down a part of a crane through the ceiling of the Grand Mosque on 11 September, instantly killing scores of pilgrims.
The crane, which weighs about 1,000 tonne, is said to be among the tallest in the world, owned by the Binladin Group that is heading the expansion work at the Grand Mosque.
Saudi Arabia had cut the Haj quota for all nations by 20% this year as it is carrying out construction at the Grand Mosque.
In other incidents, at least two fires were reported from hotels in Mecca where thousands of Haj pilgrims are staying. Several Muslims were injured in the fires while thousands had to be evacuated.
On Wednesday, in yet another mishap, the door of a special train for Haj pilgrims malfunctioned, trapping over 200 people inside the train car, causing many to suffocate and faint.