A horrific death toll, currently pegged at more than 700, continued to rise Thursday following a violent stampede during the holy hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. The deadly incident is one of many violent human stampedes throughout history.
The stampede took place in Mina, outside the holy city Mecca, where pilgrims performed the stoning of the devil ritual in which they throw pebbles against stone walls. Some people fell, leading to to a terrible scene as people stampeded through the crowd. Some 4,000 people from rescue services attempted to assist the injured as 220 ambulances responded to the incident.
The six-day hajj pilgrimage has experienced a number of such stampedes; the large ceremonies and sudden influx of people often create logistical issues. Most recently, more than 360 pilgrims were killed in Mina during the stoning of the devil ceremony in 2006, the Associated Press reported. Two years prior, 244 pilgrims died in a stampede with hundreds more injured on the final day of the hajj. Deadly stampedes also occurred in the 2004, 2001, 1998 and 1994 hajj pilgrimages.
But the most deadly hajj stampede took place in 1990, according to the AP. A stampede in a packed pedestrian tunnel leading into the holy sites in Mecca killed 1,426 pilgrims. A number of people stopped moving forward in the middle of the air-conditioned tunnel, which caused a stampede as pilgrims continued to rush in to escape 112-degree heat, the New York Times reported at the time.
Such stampedes have taken place across the globe, claiming countless lives. One notable example in the United States was the Station Nightclub stampede in Rhode Island that came after the building caught fire. Seconds into a performance by rock band Great White, pyrotechnics caused a fire, which then led to 100 people dying from either the flames, smoke inhalation or an ensuing stampede, according to U.S. News and World Report.
In the United Kingdom, a stampede in 1989 killed 96 Liverpool FC supporters at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium after penned-in fans were crushed against fencing. Sporting events have experienced a number of such crushes. The most deadly happened in Lima, Peru, in 1964. Some 300 people died following a soccer match in an Olympic-qualifying tournament, according to BBC.
More recently Baghdad experienced an exceptionally deadly stampede in 2005, when a frenzied crowd rushed across a bridge after rumors of a suicide bomber, reported the New York Times. Nearly 1,000 people died. Also occurring on a bridge was a 2010 stampede in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. About 370 people died as huge crowds from an annual festival packed a small footbridge, according to the Guardian.