The worst Hajj incident in modern times occurred in 1990 when a stampede at a tunnel leading to Makkah killed 1,426 pilgrims, many of them Malaysians, Indonesian and Pakistanis. The pilgrims were killed in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading out from the City of Makkah towards Mina and the Plains of Arafat.
The 500 yard long (20 yards wide) pedestrian tunnel was beneath part of a mountain, built under a $15-billion development project launched by the Saudi government at the holy sites two years earlier in 1988.
The worst Hajj tragedy occurred when thousands of believers had overcrowded inside the tunnel and onto the bridge, as temperature outside had soared to 47 Celsius. Damaged railing caused 7 pilgrims to fall off near to the tunnel opening where pilgrims were exiting, and as the severity of what had unfolded came to realisation, more pilgrims pushed and hurdled to exit the carnage. The panic intensified when power inside the tunnel was suddenly cut off, and air conditioning stopped functioning. Most victims died of suffocation or were trampled in the ensuing stampede.
Immediately after the incident King Fahd issued a statement saying that the event was “God’s will, which is above everything”, adding that “had they not died there, they would have died elsewhere and at the same predestined moment.”