In what authorities are calling the worst Hajj-related disaster in Saudi Arabia in 25 years, more than 700 people were killed in a stampede on the first day of Eid Al Adha.
At least 863 other people were injured in the tragedy, which is being investigated by the government.
According to QNA, no Qatar-based pilgrims performing the annual Hajj were hurt or killed.
The disaster occurred in the city of Mina, where pilgrims go to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual.
Flinging pebbles at walls (which used to be pillars) is a way to reenact when the Prophet Abraham threw stones to ward off temptation from the devil when God commanded him to sacrifice his son.
According to Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry, two waves of pilgrims apparently crashed into each other when they met at an intersection. Al Jazeera English reports a ministry spokesman as saying the heat and fatigue may have played a role in the disaster.
Questions in Qatar
Condolences have been pouring in for the victims of the tragedy, including from the Pope and several other world leaders.
Qatar’s Emir, deputy Emir and prime minister also sent messages to Saudi Arabia’s king, “praying to Allah Almighty to rest (the dead’s) souls in eternal peace and paradise” and wishing the injured a speedy recovery, QNA reports.
Meanwhile, Qatar residents expressed their sympathies for the victims and questioned the safety of the pilgrimage, which began just nine days after a crane collapse in Makkah killed 107 people.
Dear me. First the crane collapse, now a stampede kills 200+ in #Mecca.
— Kamahl Santamaria (@KamahlOnTV) September 24, 2015
Millions of people head to Saudi Arabia each year for Hajj, which a Muslim is required to perform at least once in his or her lifetime. The annual pilgrimage is always crowded, and though officials have taken steps to manage safety, people have died before in stampedes there.
I'm surprised at today's Hajj deaths. Saudi built a huge bridge covered in sensors and cameras to manage crowd flow pic.twitter.com/6y1iVG5f5X
— Omar Chatriwala (@omarc) September 24, 2015
Most recently, more than 200 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in Mina in 2006, AJE reports.
It added that the worst Hajj-related disaster took place in 1990, when more than 1,400 pilgrims died in a stampede inside of a pedestrian tunnel leading to Makkah.
For those looking to find out more information about the injured and deceased, call +966112125552.