The Deadliest Stampedes Of Recent Times

Stampedes are frequent in Mecca, Saudi Arabia where thousands of pilgrims gather every year for the Hajj pilgrimage.
Stampedes are frequent in Mecca, Saudi Arabia where thousands of pilgrims gather every year for the Hajj pilgrimage.

A stampede can be triggered by sudden events and can have disastrous consequences. Events that involve large crowds like religious congregations or entertainment events can lead to stampedes if crowd management is not properly executed. Over the years, stampedes have claimed many lives and injured thousands more. Here is a list of the worst stampedes ever in recent times.

1. The 2015 Mina Stampede

Over 2,000 people lost their lives on September 24, 2015, during a "crush and stampede” event during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mina, Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Estimates of the number of deaths vary with the government of Saudi Arabia reporting a death toll of only 769 deaths while the media and individual national reports estimated the deaths to be above 2,000. Pilgrims from Iran, Mali, and Nigeria underwent the greatest loss.

The exact cause of the stampede was never really known. The event occurred at the intersection of the streets 223 and 204 that led to the Jamaraat Bridge. However, the incident did manage to raise the tension between the countries of Iran and Saudi Arabia that were already consdierably high.

2. The 1990 Mecca Tunnel Tragedy

On July 2, 1990, 1,426 pilgrims traveling through the pedestrian Al-Ma'aisim tunnel, to perform the ritual of Stoning of the Devil in Mecca, were suffocated and trampled to death during a freak stampede accident. This is the second highest death toll related to a stampede incident in recent times.

On the morning of the fateful day, pilgrims were traveling through the 550 meters long and 10 meters wide tunnel in large numbers. Suddenly, a pedestrian bridge railing was bent which led to seven people falling off a bridge onto those leaving the tunnel. This event created crowd hysteria and the tunnel, with a capacity of 1,000 filled up with 5,000 people as there was commotion at the exit space. As heat built up in the tunnel (outside temperatures were 44 °C), the ventilation failed, and people were suffocated to death. Most of those dead were of Malaysian, Pakistani, and Indonesian origin.

3. The 2005 Al-Aaimmah bridge Stampede

The stampede occurred on August 31, 2005, and killed 953 people on the Al-Aaimmah bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraq. More than a million pilgrims had gathered to visit the Al Kadhimiya Mosque, an important pilgrimage site in the region. Tensions were already on the higher side as earlier in the day, a terrorist attack upon the assembled crowd had claimed the lives of seven people. Near the shrine, a sudden rumor of a suicide bomber spread like wildfire. This led the panicked crowd to gather on the bridge which was already closed to the public. However, the crowd managed to open the bridge and rushed through it. During this extreme chaos, many fell onto the concrete base and died. The worst happened when, due to the extreme pressure on the bridge, the iron railings gave way, plunging hundreds into the Tigris River 30 feet below. Most of the victims of the disaster were women, children, and the elderly. Many good samaritans tried to save those drowning in the river and one teenage boy, Othman Abdul Hafez, even died while saving people.

The Deadliest Stampedes Of Recent Times

RankDateStampedeDeath Toll
1September 24, 2015Mina Stampede, Mecca, Saudi Arabia2,411
2July 2, 1990Mecca Tunnel Tragedy, Saudi Arabia1,426
3August 31, 2005Al-Aaimmah Bridge Stampede, Baghdad., Iraq953
4January 12, 20062006 Hajj stampede, 364
5November 22, 2010Phnom Penh Stampede, Phnom Penh, Cambodia347
6January 25, 2005Mandher Devi Temple Stampede, Maharashtra, India291
7February 1, 20042004 Hajj stampede, Mecca, Saudi Arabia251
8September 30, 2008Jodhpur Stampede, Rajasthan, India224
9May 9, 2001Accra Sports Stadium disaster, Accra, Ghana127
10Apr 9, 19981998 Hajj stampede, Mecca, Saudi Arabia118

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