The stoning ritual at Mina, outside Mecca, is one of the most dangerous aspects of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Thursday’s stampede, in which atleast 262 people died, happened on the entrance ramp to the Jamarat Bridge as pilgrims thronged to cast stones at three pillars representing the devil.
The two-tier bridge – which allows access to the pillars on both levels – has seen many lethal stampedes in recent years. After 251 people died in 2004, the one metre diameter cylindrical pillars were replaced by short walls.
This was to improve crowd flow and allow more people to stone the pillars at one time.
A five level version of the bridge is planned and work was due to begin at the end of the 2006 Hajj.
Mina is one of the key sites of the Hajj and pilgrims camp there for several nights, turning the area into a city of tents.