Thursday, September 24

Breaking News: Stampede kills at least 220 at Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca, injures 450 UPDATED 1:10pm EDT

From The New York Times (no time stamp)
BEIRUT, Lebanon — At least 717 people were killed and 863 injured in a stampede near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday morning.

See also The Guardian's 'live blogging' on the stampede, which includes video and a list compiled by AP of deaths from earlier stampedes/'crushes' during the Hajj going back to 1990.

CNN report filed by By Faith Karimi and Schams Elwazer, CNN
Updated 5:07 AM ET, Thu September 24, 2015

(CNN) A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season has killed at least 200 people and left 450 others wounded. [CNN ticker showing 220 current death toll; Guardian reports Saudi civil defense has verified that number]

The stampede occurred during the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.


"We have a stampede accident in Mina and civil defense is dealing with it," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said.

Officials deployed 4,000 workers and 220 ambulances and other vehicles to Mina to help with the disaster.

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

The ceremony was the scene of stampedes and hundreds of deaths in the 1980s and 1990s as pilgrims passed a crowded bottleneck area leading to the small pillars on the ground.

In 2006, a stampede there killed at least 363 people.

After that, the Saudi government erected three massive pillars and completed a $1.2 billion, five-story bridge nearby where pilgrims can toss stones. It was meant to be a roomier atmosphere and more efficient way to accommodate the faithful.


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