Over 700 People Killed in Stampede in Hajj Pilgrimage Near Mecca

Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

According to Saudi Arabia officials, more than 700 people have been killed and more than 800 have been injured in a stampede as millions of Muslims made their pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca.

The stampede took place about two miles from Mecca in a tent city called Mina during the ritual known as “stoning the devil.” Pilgrims sleep in 160,000 tents in Mina during the hajj because it is located in a valley where the symbolic stone throwing ritual is held. During the “stoning of the devil,” pebbles are thrown at three stone pillars that represent the devil.

Saudi Arabia’s civil defense directorate reported that the stampede occurred when a large number of pilgrims surged at an intersection of two streets. Saudi Arabia’s health minister released a statement baling the tragedy on the pilgrims who didn’t follow directions, according to CNN.

Hours after the stampede, pilgrims continued their journey. One pilgrim, Ethar El-Katatney, was near the site of the stampede five hours after it happened. She watched as medical personnel and police officers pulled bodies out of the edges of the crowd.

“I saw the ambulances, I saw bodies. … At least 20, 30 ambulances passed me by,” she told CNN by phone as she tried to reach the pillars herself.

NBC reports that more than 220 rescue vehicles and 4,000 first responders were at the site.

Thursday’s stampede is the deadliest pilgrimage incident since 1990, when 1,426 people were killed in an overcrowded tunnel leading to Mecca’s holy site. Since then, crushes and stampedes leading to many deaths have taken place in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2006.

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