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Hajj Stampede Near Mecca Leaves Over 700 Dead

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BEIRUT, Lebanon — At least 717 people were killed and 863 injured in a stampede near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday morning.

The deaths — at an intersection in Mina, about six miles east of the city — occurred around 9 a.m. on the first day of Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar, as millions of Muslims were making their pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca.

It appeared to be the deadliest accident during the hajj since 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims perished in a stampede in a tunnel linking Mecca and Mina. And it occurred less than two weeks after a large construction crane toppled and crashed into the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing at least 111 people and injuring 394 others.

Thursday’s stampede is likely to intensify fears that Saudi Arabia does not have the transportation and public safety infrastructure to channel and protect one of the world’s largest regular human migrations.

In a statement, the Saudi health minister, Khalid al-Falih, said the stampede may have been “caused by the movement of some pilgrims who didn’t follow the guidelines and instructions issued by the responsible authorities.”

Read more at NYTimes.com…

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