Cheaper air travel and a lavish expansion of facilities in recent times mean the number of pilgrims to Mecca for the annual hajj festival now regularly totals around 2.5 million. In spite of improved safety precautions, the death last week of 363 visitors in a stampede during the "stoning of the devil" ritual is an all-too familiar tragedy.
DECEMBER 1975 Some 200 pilgrims camped at Mina, east of Mecca, die when a cooking-gas cylinder explodes, sparking a fire that sweeps through the tent city
NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 1979 127 troops and 26 civilians die in fighting at Mecca's Grand Mosque after it is seized by Saudi militants, 102 of whom are also killed
JULY 1987 Clashes between Saudi security forces and Iranian protesters leave 402 dead
JULY 1989 5 Pakistanis die in a fire at a camp, and 1 is killed when bombs explode near the Grand Mosque
JULY 1990 1,426 pilgrims are crushed or asphyxiated in a tunnel at Mina
MAY 1994 270 pilgrims die in a stampede at the "stoning of the devil"
APRIL 1997 A fire caused by a gas heater at a Mina camp kills 343
APRIL 1998 A stampede during the stoning ritual 118 dead
Further deadly crushes en route to the stoning:
MARCH 2001 35 dead
FEBRUARY 2003 14 dead
FEBRUARY 2004 251 dead
JANUARY 2005 3 dead
JANUARY 5, 2006 76 Hajj pilgrims die when a hotel in Mecca collapses