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  • Medical staff carry away a wounded pilgrim following a crush caused by large numbers of people pushing at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca September 24, 2015.

    Medical staff carry away a wounded pilgrim following a crush caused by large numbers of people pushing at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca September 24, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 September 2015

Saudi authorities said another 850 people were injured as massive crowds pushed at Mina, near Mecca.

Saudi officials Thursday updated the death toll of the people who were killed in a stampede at the annual Hajj pilgrimage to more than 700. The tragedy occured just outside the holy city of Mecca, where over 2 million people were performing the annual Islamic pilgrimage.

The Saudi civil defense said that 850 other people were injured in the crush caused by massive crowds pushing at Mina. Mina is where pilgrims carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing small rocks against three stone walls. It also houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.

AP reported that officials released photos of the tragedy showing rescue workers in orange and yellow vests helping the wounded onto stretchers and loading them onto ambulances near some of the white tents.

Todays’s stampede is on its way to become the deadliest in more than 25 years. In 1990, 1,426 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel leading to holy sites in Mecca.

Today's tragedy comes just weeks after the collapse of a construction crane in Mecca that killed more than 100 people and injured at least 200.

Officials have launched an investigation into the cause of the collapse amid claims the proper safeguards were ignored in the race to complete developments surrounding the Grand Mosque, including one for a 10,000-bed hotel.

Muslims are bound by the religious duty to complete the hajj – one of the five pillars of Islam – at least once. The rituals are aimed at clensing the soul and promoting bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood within Islam.
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