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'At least 717 dead' in hajj stampede

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th September 2015 03:10 PM

At least 717 people were killed and 850 hurt in a stampede of pilgrims Thursday in one of the worst incidents in years to hit the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

'At least 717 dead' in hajj stampede

Muslim pilgrims gather to perform noon and afternoon prayers at Namira Mosque in Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on September 23, 2015. Arafat Day, on the 9th of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja, is the climax of the hajj season. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH

At least 717 people were killed and 850 hurt in a stampede of pilgrims Thursday in one of the worst incidents in years to hit the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

At least  717 people were killed and 850 hurt in a stampede of pilgrims Thursday in one of the worst incidents in years to hit the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

Saudi Arabia's civil defence service released the toll and said rescue operations were under way after the stampede in Mina, where almost two million pilgrims were taking part in the last major rite of the hajj.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the stampede.

Pilgrims had converged on Mina just outside Mecca on Thursday to throw pebbles at one of three walls representing Satan, the symbolic "stoning of the devil" that marks the last day of the event.

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A file picture taken on October 4, 2014 shows Muslim pilgrims arriving to throw pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca. Over 200 people were killed and 390 hurt in a stampede of pilgrims on September 24, 2015 during the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia, the civil defence service said. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH

The world's 1.5 billion Muslims were on Thursday marking Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar.

The hajj is among the five pillars of Islam and every capable Muslim must perform it at least once in a lifetime.

In the past the pilgrimage was for years marred by stampedes and fires, but it had been largely incident-free for nearly a decade following safety improvements.

Preparations for this year's hajj were marred when on September 11 a construction crane collapsed at Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, killing 109 people.

In January 2006, 364 pilgrims were killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina.

AFP

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