At least 310 people were killed and hundreds were injured in a stampede Thursday in Mina, Saudi Arabia, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the Associated Press reported, citing Saudi authorities.
Mina, about five kilometers from the Muslim holy city of Mecca, houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.
The Saudi civil defense directorate said about 450 other pilgrims were injured in the stampede on Street 204 in Mina.
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, Reuters said.
Amateur video shared on social media showed a horrific scene, with scores of bodies lying amid crushed wheelchairs and water bottles along a sunbaked street.
Safety during Hajj is a politically sensitive issue for the kingdom’s ruling Al Saud dynasty, which presents itself internationally as the guardians of orthodox Islam and custodians of its holiest places in Mecca and Medina, according to Reuters.
The government has spent billions of dollars upgrading and expanding Hajj infrastructure and crowd control technology in recent years, and the last big deadly incident took place in 2006 when at least 346 pilgrims died in a stampede.
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