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.