The 193 Deadliest Crowd Tragedies Ever Recorded

About half of people would rather stay inside alone than attend a jam-packed event. While most of these people don’t fear death, it’s one of the risks when you are with hundreds or thousands of others. We’ve morbidly gathered more than 193 crowd collapses and crushes that have occurred throughout the centuries. More often than not, these incidents result in an unimaginable loss of life. Yet we still understand very little about these tragic events.

A common misconception is that crowd crushes occur due to the size of a crowd. Their true cause is too dense of a crowd (more than four to five people per square meter). In such cases, the pressure on each individual causes the crowd to collapse in on itself, or become so densely packed that individuals are crushed and asphyxiated.

Most agree the fault lies with poor event organization, and the major crowd disasters of the past could have been prevented by simple crowd management strategies. Nevertheless, these incidents continue to happen at large gatherings such as religious, sporting, musical, or other events.

So let’s take a look at some of the deadliest crowd crushes ever recorded. While the causes and circumstances for gathering do vary, their commonalities may be able to help us better understand these tragic events.

View Fatal crowd crushes in a full screen map

The 10 Deadliest Crowd Crushes

Of the 193 fatal crowd crushes on the map, several have death tolls that far surpass the rest. Each of the following 10 crowd crushes resulted in the deaths of more than 340 people:

  • 2015 Mina stampede: 2,400+ estimated deaths
  • 1990 Mecca tunnel tragedy: 1,426
  • Khodynka Tragedy: 1,389
  • 2005 Al-Aimmah Bridge disaster: 953
  • 1954 Prayag Kumbh Mela stampede: 500-800
  • Iroquois Theatre fire: 602
  • Chongqing tunnel massacre: 461
  • Unnamed: 354
  • Phnom Penh stampede: 347
  • 2006 Hajj stampede: 345

When it comes to the timing of these unfortunate events, four of the ten deadliest have already occurred this century—even though it’s not even half over. With five total incidents having occurred throughout the 1900s, we’re likely to face more crowd crushes in the next decades than ever before.

Location-wise, Saudi Arabia has been home to the highest number of incidents, with three of the top ten tragedies occurring in the country. More than this, however, is the fact that all three of the Saudi Arabian crowd crushes took place in the same city: Mina. Notably, all of these were religious-type gatherings.

The 15 Reasons for Gathering Before a Crush

The 10 deadliest crowd crushes aren’t the only takeaway from the map. The reasons for each gathering that resulted in a crush are worth diving into.

Crowd Crush Gathering Type No.
Religion 42
Sports 36
Concert or Festival 23
Other Recreation 16
Holiday 13
Funeral 11
Nightclub 10
School 9
Politics 9
Aid 9
Military 6
Transportation 3
Shopping 2
Other 2
Execution 2

As you can see from the table above (and on the map when you group by “​​Gathering Type”), religion and sports events are the most common reasons for gathering before a fatal crowd crush, with 42 and 36 incidents respectively.

The deadliest religious-related crowd crushes include the previously mentioned #1 deadliest crush overall, the 2015 Mina stampede. Meanwhile, the Lima, Peru Estadio Nacional disaster is the sports-related crowd crush that saw the most people die (328 estimated deaths).

Concerts or festivals are the third most common reason for gathering before a crowd crush, while other recreation, holiday, and funeral events also had a significant number of incidents, with 16, 13, and 11 incidents respectively.

Nightclubs, schools, politics, and aid-related events had fewer incidents but still accounted for a non-negligible number of fatal crowd crushes. Military and transportation events had the lowest number of incidents, with 6 and 3 respectively. Shopping events and other types of gatherings had only 2 reported incidents each. Finally, there were 2 incidents reported as executions, which is a particularly disturbing finding.

Note that we manually assigned each incident a type—and there is the potential for overlap. For example, a crowd crush during a NYE concert could be classified as both a concert and holiday. Regardless, types can be especially helpful when you map your data with a tool that groups together your data types.

Why You Should Assign Types or Categories to Your Data

For certain kinds of data—even those entirely pulled from an outside source—there is the opportunity to improve your insights by assigning types or categories.

This could be anything from types of gatherings before a crowd crush, as discussed in the previous section, or even reasons for crush, from fires to police instigation.

Not only can this be helpful when viewing your spreadsheet (you can create filters to only show specific data types in Google Sheets, for example), but also when mapping.

These type or category columns will be suggested for grouping, along with other columns in your spreadsheet that may be useful. You and other users of your map will be able to select only the markers that meet certain requirements, filtering out the rest. Groups can be combined to zero in on very specific results, giving you insight into the story behind the map.

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