More than 2 million Muslims from around the world are in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, a pilgrimage that all Muslims who have the financial and physical ability must make at some point in their lives. Many save for decades to make the journey.
And the millions of people must perform a litany of rituals in five days, including the symbolic stoning of the devil in Mina, about 2 miles away from Mecca.
That’s where Thursday morning’s deadly stampede took place, killing 717 people and injuring about 900 more. Thursday was day three of the five-day Hajj.
“There’s so little time to complete the rituals,” Hajj pilgrim Ethar El-Katatney said.
Journalist Khaled Al-Maeena said he believes pilgrims rushing to finish could have been the main reason for the stampede.
“People like to do the first stoning in the morning,” he told CNN from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
At the stoning ritual in Mina, pilgrims hurl rocks at three walls and pillars called the Jamarat in a re-enactment of when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil to reject his temptations.
The journey is physically grueling enough on its own.
But with temperatures soaring over 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit), anyone who succumbs to the elements might collapse and never recover, El-Katatney said.
“I was out for a couple of hours just kind of taking photos, recording. And just two hours standing in the sun makes you so dizzy and so incredibly faint,” she said from Mina.
“But regardless, people were still continuing to … their ritual, where the stampede happened.”
El-Katatney said the sight of the carnage was simply “horrendous.”
“It’s literally a pile of bodies of people who … pushed, they shoved, they panicked, they screamed,” she said. “It was hot, someone fell, others trampled and they got stampeded.”
El-Katatney said she talked to some of the men who were caught in the mayhem.
“They told me how if you fell, if you weren’t strong enough to withstand the pushing and shoving … if you fell, you weren’t going to get up again.”
El-Katatney said pilgrims were trying to push their way in opposite directions — some headed to the site of the stoning, some coming back from their previous ritual.
“As our group started to head back, taking Road 204, another group, coming from Road 206, crossed our way,” said another worshipper, Ahmed Mohammed Amer.
“Heavy pushing ensued. I’m at a loss of words to describe what happened. This massive pushing is what caused the high number of casualties among the pilgrims.”
After the stampede, it took hours for rescue workers to try to tend to all those trampled.
“The ambulances, the sirens were overwhelming,” El-Katatney said. “For hours and hours, you could hear them constantly.”
1. The text above mainly talks about … .
A. the incident that happened in Mina
B. the pilgrimage that Muslims make
C. the victims killed in the incident
D. the symbolic stoning of the devil
E. the Hajj for Muslims in Saudi Arabia
2. One of the main reasons for the incident is … .
A. the limited time the pilgrims had
B. the unbearable heat that struck Mina
C. pilgrims rushing to finish the ritual
D. the number of pilgrims doing the stoning
E. people who collapsed because of the heat
3. How long do pilgrims make the Hajj pilgrimage?
A. 1 day
B. two days
C. three days
D. four days
E. five days
4. How many victims did the incident claimed, including those killed and injured?
A. more than a thousand
B. less than a thousand
C. thousands of people
D. tens of people
E. less than five hundred
5. The incident happened on the … day of the Hajj.
6. What do pilgrims throw stones at during the stoning ritual?
7. Another reason for the incident to happen is … .
A. severe dehydration
B. heat and heavy pushing
C. pilgrims’ enthusiasm
D. cramped tunnels
E. limited time
8. The word casualties means … .