A stampede in a Muslim pilgrim city near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, killed over 700 and injured over 800 Thursday.
Mina, about six miles from Mecca, is the site of one of the rituals associated with the annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage. A pillar there, symbolizing Satan, is ceremonially stoned by pilgrims in reenactment of a story involving Abraham and the devil from the Quran.
According to The New York Times, the stampede took place at an intersection in the city, not in direct proximity to the stoning ceremony. The incident is the deadliest hajj-related accident since 1990. (RELATED: WikiLeaks Hypes Giant Saudi-Vatican Conspiracy, Gives Zero Evidence)
Modern transportation means that the hajj, a religious obligation for all able-bodied Muslims, has boomed in recent decades. In recent years, pilgrims have numbered around 2 million.
Amid the hajj’s increasing popularity, Saudi Arabia has sometimes struggled to maintain order and security for the crowds. Mecca’s Grand Mosque has been greatly expanded to accommodate their numbers, but occasional incidents over the years have undermined trust in the Saudi authorities’ logistical competence.
The Grand Mosque is the home of the Kaaba, the cubic shrine that Muslims worldwide face when making their prayers.
Just two weeks ago, a construction crane collapsed in Mecca, killing at least 111 people.