Every year, millions of Muslims converge on the Saudi holy cities of Makkah and Medina for the annual haj pilgrimage, with the massive ceremonies representing a major security and logistical challenge for the kingdom’s authorities.
On occasion, the haj and events surrounding it have been marred by accidents and tragedies, such as Thursday’s stampede near Makkah that killed at least 310 people.
Here are some of the major haj-related incidents in Saudi Arabia.
At least 310 people are killed and 450 injured in a stampede in Mina, on the outskirts of the holy city of Makkah. In the lead-up to haj, at least 111 people are killed and scores wounded when a crane collapses in bad weather, crashing onto the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Islam’s holiest site.
More than 360 pilgrims are killed in a stampede at the desert plain of Mina, near Makkah, where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. The day before the haj began, an eight-story building being used as a hostel near the Grand Mosque in Makkah collapsed, killing at least 73 people.
A crush of pilgrims at Mina kills 244 pilgrims and injures hundreds on the final day of the haj ceremonies.
A stampede at Mina during the final day of the pilgrimage ceremonies kills 35 haj pilgrims.
About 180 pilgrims are trampled to death in panic after several of them fell off an overpass during the final stoning ritual at Mina.
At least 340 pilgrims are killed in a fire at the tent city of Mina as the blaze was aided by high winds. More than 1,500 were injured.
Some 270 pilgrims are killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual at Mina.
The worst haj-related tragedy claims the lives of 1,426 pilgrims in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Makkah.