Orbital View: Mecca During the Hajj

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

#GoodMorning to the Holy City of #Mecca #Makkah! #YearInSpace #space #spacestation #photo #iss

A photo posted by Scott Kelly (@stationcdrkelly) on

This photo over Saudi Arabia was captured by Scott Kelly on Wednesday, a day before more than 700 died and 800 were injured during a stampede of Hajj pilgrims near the holy city of Mecca. Krishnadev has more details this morning:

The [Saudi] kingdom has been criticized for the worst death toll at the Hajj since 1990, and much of the criticism is coming from Shiite Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival. Iran lost 131 people at the stampede, the highest yet of any country. Its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was scathing in his criticism of Saudi Arabia … . [T]he stampede occurred in Mina, near the Jamarat Bridge where pilgrims “stone the devil.” The Saudi health minister, Khaled al-Falih, said pilgrims had failed to follow directions, other officials were quoted as blaming “pilgrims with African nationalities” for the stampede—though it's unclear how many people from Africa were among the dead. …

The deaths come two weeks after a crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque killed 109 people and injured about 400 others.