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Hajj stampede: At least 310 dead, says Saudi civil defence

At least 310 people were killed and 450 others injured during a stampede on Thursday (Sept 24) involving pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

Saudi Arabia’s civil defence service said rescue operations were under way after the stampede in Mina, which lies 5km east of the holy city of Mecca.

More than 4,000 rescue workers and over 200 emergency vehicles were at the scene, it said on its Twitter account.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the stampede.

Almost two million pilgrims had converged on Mina to perform a major rite of the hajj​: Throwing pebbles at one of three walls representing Satan, the symbolic "stoning of the devil".

Thursday was Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, which is celebrated in Singapore as Hari Raya Haji. It is the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar.

Among worst incidents in years

The hajj is among the five pillars of Islam and every able-bodied Muslim with financial means is expected to perform it at least once in their lifetime.

Thursday's stampede is one of the worst incidents in years to hit the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia.

In the past, the pilgrimage was marred by stampedes and fires. But it had been largely incident-free for nearly a decade following safety improvements.

This is the second major incident to strike the pilgrims this month. Two weeks earlier, a construction crane collapsed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, killing 109 people.

In January 2006, 364 pilgrims were killed in a stampede during the stoning ritual in Mina.

Sources: AFP, Xinhua

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