Volume 2, Number 2
Muharram, 1418/May, 1997
12,000 Die in Disastrous Hajj Fire
Mecca - April 18th.
Unnamed sources say that the fire that
rampaged uncontrolled through the tent city at Mina, took
approximately 12,000 lives. On the condition of
anonymity, these sources say that more than 75,000 tents
were burned up in the deadly blaze. "The government
is terrified that the real death count will get out. They
are trying to control all news getting out. However, our
sources are in the fire, police and ambulance services
that pulled the living out of the mess. They made their
In Mina, the air was filled with smoke, and the ground was littered with remains of tents, burned-out buses and cars, and destroyed luggage. Trucks carted off blackened debris, while workers -- assisted by the army -- frantically erected new tents in expectation of the pilgrims returning from Arafat the next day.
One diplomat said, "Hospital staff are not
authorized to speak and the Hajj authorities are not
sharing information with the embassies or press."
search of the charred debris continued, swarms of
white-robed pilgrims by midday Wednesday had reached
Mount Arafat, pinnacle of an elaborate set of hajj
However, this year, due to the fire, some pilgrims had to miss accomplishment of this fifth pillar of Islam. "We will come next year for hajj, insha-Allah. This year we lost everything," said one pilgrim.
Others continued on, their desire to complete the rite undiminished by the terrible disaster that had befallen them. One such pilgrim said, "I grieve for the loss of my father, he was caught and could not escape. But I am glad in the knowledge he died as a shaheed, and he is in Paradise now, alhamdulillah!" Such fervent faith was seen in many of the pilgrims, who had lost loved ones, but undeterred, moved on to Arafat to attend the standing of the main day of Hajj, wuquf'i Arafat. Deeply saddened, they spent their day at Arafat, imploring Allah's mercy on their family members who were martyred in the fire.
Thursday, Muslims around the world celebrated Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) at the end of hajj. However, the normal rejoicing was severely tempered by the knowledge that many hajjis perished in the fire.
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