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Stampede kills more than 700 at Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca

September 24th, 2015 | Tags: stampede Hajj pilgrimage Mecca killed Saudi Arabia
A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season -- the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca -- has killed more than 700 people and injured 800 others in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Getty Images
In Thursday's stampede, pilgrims were walking toward the largest of the pillars when there was a sudden surge in the crowd about 9 a.m., causing a large number of people to fall, the Saudi Press Agency said, citing civil defense officials. Information on what led to the surge wasn't immediately available. Photo: Getty Images
In Thursday's stampede, pilgrims were walking toward the largest of the pillars when there was a sudden surge in the crowd about 9 a.m., causing a large number of people to fall, the Saudi Press Agency said, citing civil defense officials. Information on what led to the surge wasn't immediately available. Photo: Getty Images
CNN NEWS

A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season -- the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca -- has killed more than 700 people and injured 800 others in Saudi Arabia.

The stampede occurred Thursday morning during the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in the tent city of Mina, about 2 miles from Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

Footage taken just after the stampede -- obtained by CNN Arabic -- shows a disturbing scene. Bodies piled upon bodies, a few moving, but most appearing lifeless. Workers in hard hats and reflective vests can be seen working the edges of the pile of faithful, pulling dead bodies away to get to those who are still alive.

Ethar El-Katatney, a pilgrim who was near the stampede site about five hours after the surge happened, said she walked past ambulances that were carrying bodies of victims. She said she saw numerous police officers and medical personnel in the area.

"I saw the ambulances, I saw bodies. ... At least 20, 30 ambulances passed me by," she told CNN by phone as she tried to reach the pillars herself.

Hundreds have been killed in past years during the same ceremony, and it comes only 13 days after a crane collapse killed more than 100 people at another major Islamic holy site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The incident is the deadliest disaster at Mina since 1990, when 1,426 people died.

Civil defense authorities said the latest death toll is 717, but the numbers have been climbing steadily. Officials deployed 4,000 workers, along with 220 ambulances and other vehicles, to Mina in response to the disaster.

In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in a re-enactment of when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz held an emergency meeting to discuss the stampede, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

He ordered an inquiry.

In Thursday's stampede, pilgrims were walking toward the largest of the pillars when there was a sudden surge in the crowd about 9 a.m., causing a large number of people to fall, the Saudi Press Agency said, citing civil defense officials.

Information on what led to the surge wasn't immediately available.

 

 
 

 

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