A stampede and crush killed more than 2,400 pilgrims at the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia last year. Some of the survivors recount their experience:


Kauser Parveen of Abbottabad, Pakistan, who said her brother, Mohammad Sajid, fell nearby, but she could not help him:

“I was feeling extreme suffocation and, in a moment, fainted. While I was collapsing, I saw my brother from a distance on the ground screaming for help and water. People in the crowd were snatching bottles of water from each other. I saw people piling up on people already collapsed.”


Assigue Ouologuem, a 74-year-old retired postal worker from Mali, who lost consciousness in the crowd and found himself by the side of the road:

“The younger ones were lucky enough to escape quickly, but the elderly and the women had trouble getting out of the crush of people.”


Dawood Raza, a 51-year-old businessman from Peshawar, Pakistan, who said he pushed himself toward a wall after he began suffocating:

“The scene was much like a slaughterhouse where sacrificed animals are dumped on one another. People were screaming for help, but there was no one to listen. Police officers seemed confused and looked like they were not trained to handle this kind of situation.”


Mohamed Nasim, a civil servant from Quetta, Pakistan, who was walking with his wife, 44-year-old Zar Bibi:

“Somehow, I lost my wife’s hand and, in an attempt to catch her back, I was pushed hard toward the concrete barrier and my arm and hand were injured. I fell near the concrete block and passed out.”

“I still avoid looking into eyes of my four children, though they always console me. I feel guilty that I could not bring back their mother after the hajj.”


Yusuf Shettima, a lawyer from Nigeria, who blamed the tragedy on “people’s unruly behavior” and also Iranian pilgrims:

“Times were given for every country to move to the Jamarat (the point in the hajj where the stampede occurred). But sadly, the pilgrims from Iran … insisted on taking the closer route used by those returning. … That was the beginning of the confusion.”