345 people are dead at this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca. From the NYT story:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 12 – A stampede on Thursday at the annual pilgrimage to Mecca killed 345 people, the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said, the deadliest such event since 1990. The Saudi Red Crescent Society said as many as 1,000 had been injured.
The pilgrims, most of them from the Indian Subcontinent, were trampled to death when they tripped over luggage left at the entrance to the Jamarat Bridge and were overrun by a crowd rushing behind them, said a ministry spokesman, Mansour bin Sultan al-Turki.
The official explanation:
The ministry had set up luggage storage areas near the bridge, but that there was not enough space for all the bags. There are no hotels along the way, just a few camps, and little in the way of security, so most pilgrims, or hajjis, take their belongings with them wherever they go.
Could be replays of the carnage coming in the news:
“About 700,000 people had gathered there today, but we still don’t know exactly what happened,” said Osama al-Bar, director of the Hajj Research Center at Um al-Qura University in Mecca. “We had seven cameras on the scene and will be studying them tomorrow.”
1,402 people died there in 1990, so I guess it could have been worse.