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Saudi authorities said at least 310 people were killed and hundreds were injured in a stampede Thursday at the annual hajj pilgrimage.  The incident happened in Mina, a large valley about three miles from the holy city of Mecca that has been the site of hajj stampedes in years past.

Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone walls. Mina also consists of more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.

According to the Saudi civil defense directorate at least 450 other pilgrims were injured in the stampede on Street 204 in Mina. It’s not immediately clear if some of those previously listed as injured were included in rising death tolls.

An amateur video shared on social media gave some insight to a horrific scene, with scores of bodies lying amid crushed wheelchairs and water bottles along the street.  Pictures released by the directorate on its official Twitter account depicted rescue workers helping the wounded onto stretchers and loading them onto ambulances near some of the tents.

This year’s hajj pilgrimage began Tuesday and an estimated 2 million people were taking part.  Even though Saudi authorities take extensive precautions to ensure the security of the hajj as well as the safety of pilgrims, tragedies are not uncommon.

The stampede was the deadliest disaster at the hajj since 2006, when more than 360 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in the same area. In 2004 244 pilgrims were pronounces dead and hundreds injured at another stampede in Mina.

 

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