Saudi Arabia’s latest hajj disaster raises serious safety questions

The biggest annual gathering of Muslims from around the world, the hajj, is also one of the biggest and most unique logistical problem in the world. Since the Arab-Israeli war and the rise of oil prices in 1973, the number of pilgrims to Mecca has risen significantly from around 58,000 in 1920 to 1.7 million by 2012. The number peaked at 3.1 million in 2013, when country quotas were re-introduced. It was estimated that 2 million people took part in the annual pilgrimage this year, where a disastrous stampede resulted in the deaths of 717 pilgrims. This was following an earlier incident involving the collapse of a crane in Mecca causing the deaths of more than a hundred people. These latest horrific disasters in Saudi Arabia has raised familiar yet troubling and grim questions about the organization, safety precautions and levels of competence in the Kingdom. Some experts are saying the huge number of pilgrims are not the ones to be blamed for the accidents. Rather, the state should take the blame for poor planning and incompetence on their part. The ongoing construction boom in the city, poor communication, and inadequate emergency planning are said to have contributed to the tragedy. Read the full article here

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