Saudi Arabia’s civil defense directorate says 717 people were killed in a crush of Muslim pilgrims near the holy city of Mecca.
Thursday’s disaster was the deadliest such incident on the annual hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades, and comes nearly two weeks after a crane collapsed in Mecca, killing 100 people.
The crush happened in Mina, a large valley about five kilometers (three miles) from Mecca that has been the site of past hajj stampedes.
Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone columns. It also houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.
The civil defense directorate says at least 805 other pilgrims were injured.
EARLIER YWN REPORTS:
According to international media reports, many have been killed in a Hajj pilgrimage stampede in Mecca. A BBC report places the number of dead at 150. According to Twitter reports, hundreds have been injured as well.
According to Saudi Arabian officials, the fatal incident took place on day one of the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice holiday.
Sky News reports that rescue operations are underway, echoing the 150 number for the current death toll.
13:00: The death toll is now reported to have passed 220.
13:14: Walla News quoting foreign sources places the death toll in the Hajj stampede at over 310.
(AP / YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)