Deadly stampede kills hundreds in Saudi Arabia

(AP) – Saudi Arabia’s civil defense directorate says 717 people were killed in a crush of Muslim pilgrims near the holy city of Mecca.

Thursday’s disaster was the deadliest such incident on the annual hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades, and comes nearly two weeks after a crane collapsed in Mecca, killing 100 people.

The crush happened in Mina, a large valley about five kilometers (three miles) from Mecca that has been the site of past hajj stampedes.

Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing pebbles against three stone columns. It also houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.

The civil defense directorate says at least 805 other pilgrims were injured.

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