Hundreds of people were killed and another 450 or so injured when a stampede broke out during one of the final Hajj rituals in Mina, a tent city a couple of miles from Mecca.
The stampede broke out during the “stoning the devil” Muslim ceremony – and it’s not the first time this has happened. CNN reported hundreds have been killed during the same ritual in previous years and in 2006 alone, 363 died during the ceremony.
Thursday’s incident has so far left a total of 453-plus dead, though the numbers of fatalities are continuing to climb.
“We have a stampede accident in Mina and civil defense is dealing with it,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, on CNN.
About 4,000 emergency responders and 220 ambulances have been called to the scene.
The two-day “stoning the devil” ritual requires pilgrims to hurl rocks at three pillars, in recognition of the Muslim story of Abraham throwing stones at the devil in rejection of temptations, CNN said.
Hajj, in its third day on Thursday, actually kicked off with a disaster that left 107 dead. Ten days before the season started, a construction crane crashed through the Grand Mosque roof in Mecca, killing more than 100 and leaving 238 injured.