DEAD IN HAJJ STAMPEDE REACH 700

stampede im necca

The number of victims killed in the stampede that took place in Saudi Arabia while taking part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage has risen to 717.

Another 863 people were injured in the incident at Mina, which occurred as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite.

It is the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years.

Saudi ambulances arrive with pilgrims who were injured in a stampede at an emergency hospital in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, on the first day of Eid al-Adha on September 24, 2015.

Preparations for the Hajj were marred when a crane collapsed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque this month, killing 109 people.

During the Hajj, pilgrims travel to Mina, a large valley about 5km (3 miles) from Mecca, to throw seven stones at pillars called Jamarat, which represent the devil.

The pillars stand where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.

People were going towards the direction of throwing the stones while others were coming from the opposite direction. Then it became chaotic and suddenly people started going down.

Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.

There were people from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Senegal among other nationalities. People were just climbing on top of others in order to move to a safer place and that’s how some people died.

People were chanting Allah’s name while others were crying, including children and infants. People fell on the ground seeking help but there was no-one to give them a helping hand. Everybody seemed to be on their own.

Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi interior ministry, said the crush occurred when two large groups of pilgrims converged from different directions on to one street.

Photographs showed the bodies of dozens of pilgrims on the ground, some piled high. They were all dressed in the simple white garments worn during the Hajj.

The civil defence directorate said the victims were of “different nationalities”, without providing details.

As well as victims from Niger witnessed by the BBC’s correspondent at the scene, Iran’s state news agency, Irna, said at least 90 Iranians were among the dead, with another 150 injured.

The BBC understands at least three Indonesians are among the dead.The UK Foreign Office said it was urgently seeking more information about whether British nationals were involved but nothing has been heard so far from the Nigerian authorities regarding the incident and it is not yet known if there are any Nigerians among the dead.

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