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Saudi: At least 717 pilgrims killed during Haj

Another 863 people were injured during the incident at Mina - where two million people were taking part in the annual Haj pilgrimage

The stampede occurred stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca.
The stampede occurred stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

At least 717 pilgrims have been killed in a stampede near the Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia's civil defence authority said.

Another 863 people were injured in the incident at Mina - where two million people were taking part in the annual hHj pilgrimage.

The crush took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, a few kilometres east of Mecca, where pilgrims stay for several days during the climax of the haj. 

Preparations for the Haj were marred when a cran collapsed at Mecca's Grand Mosque earlier this month, killing 107 people.

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.

Photographs published on the civil defence Twitter feed showed pilgrims lying on stretchers while emergency workers in high-visibility jackets lifted them into an ambulance.

"Work is underway to separate large groups of people and direct pilgrims to alternative routes," the Saudi Civil Defence said on its Twitter account.

The pilgrimage, the world's largest annual gathering of people, has been the scene of deadly stampedes in the past, as well as other disasters including tent fires and riots.

However, massive infrastructure upgrades and extensive spending on crowd control technology over the past two decades had made such events far less common.

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