Saudi Arabia A Tragic Ascension to Paradise

More than 1,400 pilgrims perish in a tunnel stampede

For Muslim pilgrims, a high point of the hajj to Mecca is the trek to Jamarat al 'Akaba in Mina, one of the three stoning points of Satan. Each passing pilgrim must cast pebbles at this rock pillar in a ritual that symbolizes the faithful's struggle against evil. At 10 a.m. last Monday the believers suddenly faced a more earthly trial.

As throngs of the faithful, clad in traditional terry-cloth robes, crossed a pedestrian bridge in Mina, a railing gave way under the pressure. Seven worshipers plunged 8 meters, smashing into even greater waves of people at the mouth of a...

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