Hazardous Hajj

Cheaper air travel and a lavish expansion of facilities in recent times mean the number of pilgrims to Mecca for the annual hajj festival now regularly totals around 2.5 million. In spite of improved safety precautions, the death last week of 363 visitors in a stampede during the "stoning of the devil" ritual is an all-too familiar tragedy.

DECEMBER 1975 Some 200 pilgrims camped at Mina, east of Mecca, die when a cooking-gas cylinder explodes, sparking a fire that sweeps through...