Stampede kills more than 450 at Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca – CNN

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(CNN)A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season — the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca — has killed more than 450 people and injured 719 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.

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.

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

Civil defense authorities said the latest death toll is 453, but the numbers have been climbing steadily. 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 — now in a re-enactment of an event when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions.

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