Avoiding Stampedes

In 2003, during the Kumbh Mela in Nasik 39 pilgrims were killed and 59 injured. In 2005 there was a stampede among a large number of Hindu worshippers on their way to to the Mandhara Devi shrine near Mumbai and 258 people were killed. This stampede is a big problem in Saudi Arabia too and in Janurary last year 345 pilgrims were killed as pilgrims rushed to complete the stoning ritual. To prevent this from happening again, the Saudis have enforced certain rules for crowd control which can be used by us as well.

A Saudi team recently returned from a crowd management workshop in Munich where they learned how to apply German experience in managing the tens of thousands of soccer fans during the last World Cup to the crowds of pilgrims at Jamrat. “We’ll apply what we have learned from Germany at Jamarat during this Haj season,” said Dr. Fadhil Othman of the Haj Research Institute, who participated in the workshop. The Saudi team watched how the Germans controlled large crowds of soccer fans rushing to an area of television screens to watch World Cup matches.

Police stopped people going to the area when 75 percent capacity was reached. They also made sure that there was adequate space in between people to move around freely without any pushing or pulling. “Another important thing we learned is that pilgrims should move in one direction and nobody should be allowed to move in the opposite direction,” he said while speaking about Jamrat crowd control strategy. [Advanced Strategy Adopted for Jamarat Crowd Control]

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