Thousands — Not Hundreds — Were Crushed To Death During Mecca Pilgrimage

Photo: Associated Press
Update: At least 2,411 people died in the September stampede — three times the death toll reported by Saudi authorities, according to an updated count from The Associated Press. These figures, were compiled using state media reports and comments from officials based in the countries whose citizens were killed during the Hajj pilgrimage. This would make the September 24 pilgrimage the deadliest in the history of the annual march to Mecca. The official death toll released by Saudi officials remains at 769, the AP reports.

This story was originally pubished on September 24, 2015.

More than 700 people died and hundreds more were injured after a stampede broke out during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, according to The Associated Press.

The tragedy occurred on the third day of the religious journey to the holy city of Mecca, in the nearby site of Mina. Saudi officials told the AP that at least 800 more pilgrims were injured in the stampede.

Officials deployed thousands of aid workers and hundreds of ambulances to Mina, which is the site of a ritual where the pilgrims throw stones at pillars, as part of a reenactment ceremony, CNN reported.

"I saw the ambulances, I saw bodies. ... At least 20, 30 ambulances passed me by," pilgrim Ethar El-Katatney told CNN in a phone interview.

Millions of Muslims were reportedly expected to participate in the pilgrimage, which is considered a spiritual requirement for those who are able to make the journey.

Stampedes along the five-day pilgrimage have killed scores in past years. However, Thursday's stampede is believed to be the deadliest in more than two decades, the AP reported.

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