After they plotted to kill the she-camel, the disbelievers among the people of Prophet Salih began to watch her closely, observing all her movements. As she came to drink from the well, Masrai, the man who volunteered to kill her, shot her in the leg with an arrow. She tried to escape but was hampered by the arrow. Qudar, his aide, followed her and struck her with a sword in the other leg. As she fell to the ground, he pierced her with his sword.
The killers were given a hero's welcome, cheered with songs and poetry composed in their praise. In their arrogance, they mocked Prophet Salih, but he warned them: "…Enjoy yourselves in your homes for three days. That is a promise not to be denied [i.e. unfailing]." [Quran 11:65]
Prophet Salih was hoping that they would see the folly of their ways and change their attitude before the three days went out.
"Why three days?" they asked. "Let the punishment come as quickly as possible."
He pleaded them saying (what means): "O my people, why are you impatient for evil before [i.e. instead of] good? Why do you not seek forgiveness of Allah that you may receive mercy?"[Quran 27:46]
They replied: "We consider you a bad omen, you and those with you…" [Quran 27:47]
Almighty Allah related their story, Saying (what means): "And We had certainly sent to Thamood their brother Salih, [saying], “Worship Allah,” and at once they were two parties conflicting.He said, “O my people, why are you impatient for evil before [i.e. instead of] good? Why do you not seek forgiveness of Allah that you may receive mercy?” They said, “We consider you a bad omen, you and those with you. He said, “Your omen [i.e. fate] is with Allah. Rather, you are a people being tested.” And there were in the city nine family heads causing corruption in the land and not amending [its affairs].
They said, “Take a mutual oath by Allah that we will kill him by night, he and his family. Then we will say to his executor, “We did not witness the destruction of his family, and indeed, we are truthful.” And they planned a plan, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not.
Then look how was the outcome of their plan - that We destroyed them and their people, all. So those are their houses, desolate because of the wrong they had done. Indeed in that is a sign for people who know.
And We saved those who believed and used to fear Allah." [Quran 27:45-53]
They also plotted to kill Prophet Saalih and his household, as Almighty Allah states (what means): "And they planned a plan, and We planned a plan, while they perceived not."[Quran 27:50] Allah Almighty saved Prophet Saalih and his followers from their wicked plans. Heavy-hearted, they left the evil doers and moved to another place.
Three days after Prophet Salih's warning, thunderbolts filled the air, followed by severe earthquakes which destroyed the entire tribe and its homeland. The land was violently shaken, destroying all living creatures in it. There was one terrific cry, which had hardly ended when the disbelievers of Prophet Salih's people were struck dead, one and all, at the same time. Neither their strong buildings nor their rock-hewn homes could protect them.
Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means): "And to the Thamood [We sent] their brother Salih. He said, “O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. This is the she-camel of Allah [sent] to you as a sign. So leave her to eat within Allah’s land and do not touch her with harm, lest there seize you a painful punishment. And remember when He made you successors after the (people of) ‘Aad and settled you in the land, [and] you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes. Then remember the favors of Allah and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.”
Said the eminent ones who were arrogant among his people to those who were oppressed — to those who believed among them, “Do you [actually] know that Salih is sent from his Lord?” They said, “Indeed we, in that with which he was sent, are believers.”
Said those who were arrogant, “Indeed we, in that which you have believed, are disbelievers.”
So they hamstrung the she-camel and were insolent toward the command of their Lord and said, “O Salih, bring us what you promise us, if you should be of the messengers.”
So the earthquake seized them, and they became within their home [corpses] fallen prone.
And he [i.e. Salih] turned away from them and said, “O my people, I had certainly conveyed to you the message of my Lord and advised you, but you do not like advisors.”[Quran 7:73-79]
All were destroyed before they realized what was happening. As for the people who believed in the message of Prophet Salih they were saved because they had left the place.
Abdullah Ibn Umar narrated that while the Prophet Muhammad was passing by Thamood's houses on his way to the battle of Tabook, he stopped together with his companions . Some of the companions fetched water from the wells from which the people of Thamood used to drink. They prepared their dough (for baking) and filled their water-skins from it (the water from the wells). The Prophet ordered them to empty the water-skins and give the prepared dough to the camels. Then he went away with them until they stopped at the well from which the she-camel (of Prophet Salih) used to drink. He warned them against entering upon the people who had been punished, "I fear that you may be affected by what afflicted them; so do no enter upon them." [Al-Bukhari]