700 people killed following stampede near Mecca
More than 700 people are dead and 800 others are injured following a stampede during the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
The stampede occurred Thursday morning during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season, known as “stoning the devil,” about two miles from Mecca.
In the ritual, crowds of pilgrims throw stones at three pillars in a re-enactment of when the Prophet Abraham stoned the devil and rejected his temptations, according to Muslim traditions.
According to the Quran, Abraham stoned the devil, who was trying to dissuade him from obeying God’s orders to sacrifice his son.
The event was a test from God, who eventually gave Abraham a ram to slaughter instead, according to scripture.
Pilgrims were walking toward the largest pillar when there was a sudden surge in the crowd, causing many people to fall.
Civil defense authorities say the latest death toll is 717, but the numbers have been climbing steadily.
The incident is the deadliest disaster at Mina since 1990, when 1,426 people died.
More than 2 million Muslims from around the world are attending this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
It was also a tragic day in Yemen, where 29 people were killed while praying inside a crowded mosque.
The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Al Bilaili mosque.