During the annual Hajj pilgrimage on April 15, 1997, a massive fire ripped through the tent city of Mina (Makkah), killing over 340 pilgrims and wounding over 1,500 others.
An estimated 2 million people assembled in Mina on the first day of Hajj. A canister of cooking gas (gas stove) exploded around 11:45 a.m. on that day, triggering a massive fire in the camp. Winds of over 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour) drove the fire out of control, causing it to spread to nearby tents. An estimated 70,000 tents were destroyed in all.
The Saudis employed helicopters and 300 fire engines to put out the fire. Trucks fired powerful water jets into the camp, filling the air with black smoke, according to television news sources.
Following the Mina fire, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz sent condolences to the families of the dead from Saudi Arabia and overseas on behalf of himself and his country. The majority of the pilgrims, according to diplomats, were Indian and Pakistanis.
Following the incident, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahad (May Allah mercy upon him) issued orders to take measures and prevent such an incident from reoccurring.
The majority of tents in Mina were made fireproof within a year and a comprehensive fire plan was introduced, since then not a major fire incident has taken place and during small incidents, the fire has been controlled with no casualties or injuries
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