Haj stampede

Overcrowding at an intersection on the road leading to the Jamarat complex, where Haj pilgrims perform the "stoning the devil" ritual, reportedly caused the stampede in Mina near Mecca on Eid al-Adha morning on Thursday, it was reported.

The incident took place at the intersection of street numbers 204 and 223 in Mina.

Jamarat (the ritual of stoning the devil) is performed on Eid al-Adha. Lakhs of pilgrims rushed towards the Jamarat complex at around 5 am when due to the massive congestion at the intersection, where street numbers 204 and 223 merge, many tripped and fell, the Saudi civil defence said.

Many who fell in the heavy rush were crushed to death. A video released on YouTube shows a pile of dead and injured pilgrims lying on each other, while the rescue personnel struggle to pull them out.

As soon as the stampede broke out, the Saudi Red Crescent volunteers rushed in to control the crowd and suspended the movement of the pedestrians, soon after which an alarm was raised.

At present over 4,000 rescue workers and 220 ambulances are at the spot.

In the past also there have been stampedes in the Jamarat area. On 9 April, 1998 at least 118 pilgrims were trampled to death and 180 injured in an incident on Jamarat Bridge, while at least 346 pilgrims were killed and 289 injured on 12 January, 2006.

Since then, to cut down on congestion and overcrowding, the Saudi authorities have built several multi-story complexes to ease the flow of pilgrims.

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