Saudi Arabia’s king has ordered a safety investigation following Hajj crush horror

Saudi Arabia's king has ordered an investigation into safety at the annual Hajj pilgrimage after a stampede left more than 700 people dead.

800 others were hurt in the crush on the outskirts of the Muslim holy city Mecca.

King Salman promised an inquiry on state TV saying “Regardless of the investigation results the improvement of the methods and the mechanisms of the Hajj season will not stop,” the King said.

Emergency services attend to victims of a crush in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. . (AP Photo)
Emergency services attend to victims of a crush in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. . (AP Photo)

“We have instructed the concerned entities to re-evaluate the current policy and the distributional responsibilities.”

Pilgrims heading to the Hajj must be given safety training following the horrifying crush at the holy city of Mecca that killed more than 700 people, British Muslim leaders have said.

The deadliest disaster in 25 years to hit the sacred pilgrimage left at least 717 people dead and 863 injured, according to Saudi Arabian officials, and shocked members of the Muslim community.

Some two million people from across the world take part in the five-day pilgrimage which began on Tuesday.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed at the hajj pilgrimage.”

Each year pilgrims pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to go on the trip which all believers who can afford it are required to perform once, with people spending between £4,000-£5,000 for a typical pilgrimage.

The crush happened in a morning surge of pilgrims at the intersection of streets 204 and 223 in Mina, a large valley about three miles east of Mecca.

Saudi Arabia’s king has ordered a safety investigation following Hajj crush horror

The faithful were making their way towards a large structure overlooking three columns where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles.

Amateur video and pictures on social media showed images of dead bodies on the ground dressed in the simple terry cloth garments worn during the hajj.

Other pictures show people sitting in wheelchairs and being treated.

The tragedy happened as Muslims around the world celebrated the key festival of Eid al-Adha, which is known as the Feast of the Sacrifice as it recalls Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah.

It comes just two weeks after a giant construction crane came crashing down on the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca, the focal point of the hajj.

A stampede in a tunnel killed over 1,400 pilgrims in 1990. Other fatal incidents have included the death of 244 pilgrims who were crushed in Mina in 2004 while more than 360 pilgrims were killed in a 2006 stampede also at Mina.

Saudi authorities deployed about 100,000 security forces this year to oversee crowd management and ensure pilgrims’ safety.

More in this Section

Justice Ruth Ginsburg completes treatment for tumour on pancreasJustice Ruth Ginsburg completes treatment for tumour on pancreas

Campaigners criticise Boris Johnson’s ‘inflammatory’ message to migrantsCampaigners criticise Boris Johnson’s ‘inflammatory’ message to migrants

Brazil’s leader suggests he will send army to tackle Amazon wildfiresBrazil’s leader suggests he will send army to tackle Amazon wildfires

Life without parole for man who killed Spanish golfer on US courseLife without parole for man who killed Spanish golfer on US course


Lifestyle

These green pancakes are topped with avocado, tomato and cottage cheese.How to make Jamie Oliver’s super spinach pancakes

Who else can pull off a look described as a ‘hip-hop Michelin woman’?As her new EP drops, this is why there will never be a style icon quite like Missy Elliott

The classic white-tipped look is once again in favour, and celebs are loving it.The French manicure is back – 5 modern ways to try the trend

The A-Listers hiding in plain sight: As Rihanna is spotted at the cricket, who are the celebs who have been living under our noses in Ireland? Ed Power reports.Celebs in plain sight: The A-Listers living under our noses in Ireland

More From The Irish Examiner