Mina Tragedy was the most fatal event in Hajj al-Tamattu' that occurred on Dhu l-Hijja 10, 1436/September 24, 2015 as a result of which over 7000 pilgrims were killed or missing. Pilgrims from 39 countries in the world were killed, missing, or injured in this event. After about three weeks from the tragedy, Saudi officials announced that the official number of people killed in the event was 7,477. The closure of the passage number 204 and the congestion of the population were stated as the main reasons for the tragedy.
According to the latest published statistics, the number of Iranian pilgrims who were killed or injured is greater than that of other countries. In his first response to the Mina Tragedy, Ayatollah Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, announced three days of national mourning, taking the mismanagement of the Saudi Arabia's government to be the main reason for the tragedy. The president of Senegal also announced three days of national mourning.
Time and Place of the Tragedy
On Thursday morning, Dhu l-Hajja 10, 1436/September 24, 2015, which was coincident with Eid al-Adha, pilgrims moved from Mina to Jamarat. Routes from Mina to Jamarat include five passages: Tariq al-Musha, Shari' al-Jawhara, Suq al-'Arab, 204, and 206. The fatal tragedy of Mina occurred somewhere in the middle of the passage 204.
Details of the Occurrence of the Tragedy
The 5 main passages—Tariq al-Musha, Shariq al-Jawhara, Suq al-'Arab, 204, and 206—connect the land of Mina to Jamarat. The passage 206 is a dead-end road, from which the pilgrims should continue on the bypass 223 to enter the passage 204. The passage 215 is another bypass connecting the passage 204 to Suq al-'Arab. In past years, when the pilgrims in the passage 206 entered the passage 204, some pilgrims could go on the passage 215 to enter Suq al-'Arab, and so, the congestion of the population was reduced.
The Main Reason: The Closure of Bypasses
The main reason why the tragedy occurred was announced to be the closure of the bypass 215, which led to an intense congestion of the population from 8:30 in the morning and the freezing of the procession at 8:45. If the bypass 215 were open, pilgrims could easily exit the location of the tragedy and enter the passage of Suq al-'Arab. Moreover, the exit of the passage 204 to Jamarat was closed by cars of the Saudi police. Thus, pilgrims in the passage 204 were, on the one hand, pressured by the arrival of the pilgrims in the passage 206, and on the other hand, they had no way forward and no way to enter the passage of Suq al-'Arab.
Consequences of the Tragedy
- 9:00 in the morning: The pressure of the population at 9:00 AM, 47-centigrade temperature, the closure of the bypass 215, and the closure of the main passage 204 led to the intense congestion of the population, attempts by some pilgrims to climb the metal walls of the passage, passing out of some pilgrims, falling of some pilgrims on the ground and their being trodden by the population, and finally, the death of some pilgrims in the early hours.
- 10:00 in the morning: Until 10:00 AM, many pilgrims had passed out and some had died, without any measures being taken by the Saudi police and rescuers.
- 11:00 in the morning: Volunteer rescuers from different countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, could finally reach the victims at 11:00 AM and save some of the injured. At 12:00, a group of Saudi rescuers arrived in the location, but the dispatch of the injured to the hospital was very slow.
- 13:00 to 17:00: The number of police forces gradually increased until 13:00 and the security measures were heightened in Mina. Physicians and volunteer rescuers from other countries were banned from entering the location. Many injured people were still abandoned on the ground. The injured people were carried to intermodal containers together with the deceased people and sometimes without being supplied with any cures or medical aids. The corpses of some pilgrims were left on the ground until 17:00.
Official Statistics of Affected Countries
According to the latest statistics published by official authorities of countries whose pilgrims were either killed or injured in the Mina Tragedy, until October 5, 2015, 2,947 people were killed or missing in the tragedy. Thus, 11 countries—Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Niger, and Benin, each with over 100 pilgrims killed or missing—were on top of the 39 countries affected by this human tragedy.
With the overall of 464 pilgrims killed and missing, as well as 159 people injured, the Islamic Republic of Iran was the most affected country.
Official Statistics of the Saudi Government
Saudi officials have not yet provided a separate and clear-cut statistics of the casualties, missing, and the injured people in the tragedy of Mina.
According to the primary official statistics of the Saudi government, 717 people were killed and 863 were injured.
On September 26, 2015, Khalid b. Abdulaziz al-Falih, the Saudi Arabian health minister, announced the latest statistics as 769 people killed and 934 people injured.
On September 29, 2015, Hamad b. Muhammad al-Duweila, the Saudi Arabian deputy health minister, announced the number of people killed in the Mina Tragedy as 4,173 people, and the news was published on the official website of the Saudi Arabian health ministry. The news was rebutted by Saudi officials after a few hours and it was removed from the website.
On October 16, 2015, some news agencies and news websites reported that the investigations of the Saudi Arabian health ministry regarding the casualties and the missing people of the Mina Tragedy were finalized. According to the statistics, 7,477 people were killed in the tragedy. A strange part of the statistics was the announcement that 1,507 Saudi Arabian nationals were killed, which had not been reported in any sources before. No independent source has verified the statistics.
Reactions to Official Statistics of Saudi Arabia
On October 5, 2015, the Associated Press compared the official statistics of Saudi Arabia (according to which 769 people were killed and 934 people injured) with statistics provided by 16 countries, and questioned the accuracy of the Saudi Arabian statistics. According to AP, the number of casualties from these 16 countries was 1,112, while Saudi Arabia announced the number of casualties from all countries to be 769.
Great Number of Iranian Casualties and Missing People
According to statistics published by affected countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran had the greatest number of casualties in the Mina Tragedy with 464 victims. The second most affected country was Mali with 341 people killed or missing.
A main reason why so many Iranians were killed was that the residence of Iranian pilgrims in Mina was very close to the entrance of the passage 204 in which the tragedy occurred.
The Most Fatal Tragedy in Hajj
According to statistics, the Mina Tragedy was the most fatal tragedy that has ever occurred during hajj rituals. However, many other tragedies have also occurred in Saudi Arabia with hundreds of pilgrims killed.
- July 31, 1987: 402 people killed, among which 275 were from Iran, and 649 people were injured, among which 303 were from Iran. It occurred while pilgrims were chanting slogans of dissociation from polytheists and were attacked by Saudi military forces.
- 1990: At least 1,426 pilgrims killed as a result of the congestion of the population in a tunnel leading to the location of Ramy al-Jamarat.
- 1994: 270 pilgrims killed as a result of the congestion of the population for Ramy al-Jamarat.
- 1995: After a fire in camps set up in Mina, 343 pilgrims killed and 1500 pilgrims were injured.
- 1996: At least 118 people killed as a result of the congestion of the population.
- 1999: Saudi Arabia confirmed the death of 35 pilgrims because of the congestion of the population.
- 2003: At least 251 people killed as a result of the congestion of the population.
- 2005: 345 people killed as a result of the congestion of the population in Ramy al-Jamarat.
- September 11, 2015: At least 118 people killed in the incident of the fall of a crane. Eleven of those people were from Iran.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from فاجعه منا in Farsi WikiShia.