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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 18:24 GMT
'It was like the road of death'
Injured Hajj pilgrims in Mina, Saudi Arabia
Many of the injured were very traumatised by the stampede
Eyewitnesses have described the chaotic scenes after at least 345 Muslim pilgrims were killed in a stampede during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

The stampede took place at the foot of the Jamarat bridge in Mina, where pilgrims hurl stones at three pillars representing the Devil.

The ritual has been marred by deadly stampedes in the past.

The BBC's Zein Tawfik in Mina said the injured are blaming people carrying luggage on their heads.

"Somebody dropped their luggage and went to retrieve it. This caused the stampede to start," he said.

The area was like a war zone - many bodies on the ground
Zein Tawfik

"Once you are on the ground, those behind you who are following go down too - it forms a wave of people."

An Egyptian pilgrim, Suad Abu-Hamada, said she had heard screaming and "saw people jumping over each other".

"The bodies were piled up. I couldn't count them, they were too many," Ms Abu-Hamada told the Associated Press.

"It was like the road of death there," one pilgrim told Reuters.

People traumatised

Our correspondent said the scene at the hospital was one of a situation under control.

Hajj pilgrims in Mina, Saudi Arabia
Emergency services have been rushing to evacuate the injured

"Most either died immediately or had minor injuries and were treated at the scene," he said.

"The dead have been moved to the morgue."

Most of the injured have broken bones and other minor injuries.

"People are very traumatised, very shocked," he said.

"One Egyptian, Radi, told me he was shocked to find himself in a pile of dead bodies when he was awoken by water poured on him by medical staff," our correspondent added.

"He was very shaken, out of breath."


Our correspondent said he felt anger from people who had undertaken the Hajj before.

"Some told me that things were worse this year. They said the authorities seemed over-relaxed," he said.

The scene at the stampede was one of chaos, he said, with ambulances from local authorities and the Red Crescent and hundreds of soldiers.

"The area was like a war zone - many bodies on the ground."


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