Over 720 Pilgrims Crushed to Death in Mecca - CVIEW NEWS

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Over 720 Pilgrims Crushed to Death in Mecca

A stampede during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest city on Thursday left at least 717 people dead and another 805 injured, Saudi officials said.
At least 717 pilgrims were killed on Thursday in a crush at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, where some 2 million people are performing the annual haj pilgrimage, according to Saudi Arabian officials.
The crush, in which more than 800 others were injured, took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, a few miles east of Mecca, where pilgrims stay for several days during the climax of the haj.
Thursday is also Eid al-Adha, when Muslims slaughter a sheep. It has traditionally been the most dangerous day of haj because vast numbers of pilgrims attempt to perform rituals at the same time in a single location.
The tragedy comes two weeks after a crane collapsed in Mecca, killing 107 and injuring 230. 
Street 204 is one of the two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, where pilgrims ritually stone the devil by hurling pebbles at three large pillars.
Photographs published on the civil defense Twitter feed showed pilgrims lying on stretchers while emergency workers in high-visibility jackets lifted them into an ambulance.
"Work is underway to separate large groups of people and direct pilgrims to alternative routes," the Saudi Civil Defense said on Twitter.
An Arab pilgrim who did not want to give his name said he had hoped to perform the stoning ritual later on Thursday afternoon but was now too frightened to risk doing so.

"I am very tired already and after this I can't go. I will wait for the night and if it not resolved, I will see if maybe somebody else can do it on my behalf," he said.
The pilgrimage, the world's largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of deadly stampedes in the past, as well as other disasters including tent fires and riots.
In January 2006, at least 345 people were killed in a stampede during the stone-throwing ritual at Mina. Two years earlier, 244 pilgrims were killed during a stampede at the Jamarat bridge, as pilgrims gathered to complete the same ritual. After the incident in 2004, the pillars were replaced by walls to improve crowd flow.
However, massive infrastructure upgrades, including the widening of pilgrimage routes, and extensive spending on crowd control technology to monitor the flow of people over the past two decades had made such events far less common.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, the total number of pilgrims for this year's haj was 1.95 million, including 1.38 million from outside the country. 

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