Devastating tragedy hits the hajj — again

They were only 3 miles from the holy city of Mecca when tragedy struck Thursday in Mina, Saudi Arabia. A stampede broke out, killing more than 700 people and injuring more than 800. It’s not the first time the annual hajj pilgrimage has been marred by a fatal incident, and as 2 million pilgrims participate each year, it’s unlikely to be the last. What’s the hajj? It’s an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. All adult Muslims who are capable of making the journey — physically and financially — must complete it at least once. When is it? The date of the hajj is determined by the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar year. This year’s hajj began Tuesday and ends Saturday. Why do people die? It depends. Saudi Arabia’s health minister blamed Thursday’s tragedy on “undisciplined pilgrims” who hadn’t followed instructions. But it’s not just the risk of stampedes that make completing the hajj dangerous. In the past, hundreds have been killed in fires and violent unrest. And just this year, the World Health Organization warned that the hajj could spread the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. What’s next? Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry, says King Salman has ordered a committee investigation into the incident.



More than 450 people were killed and over 700 injured in a stampede Thursday during the annual hajj pilgrimage just outside Mecca, Saudi officials said. The civil defense directorate said teams were leading pilgrims to safety and that rescue operati