At least 700 people were killed, and 719 were injured, in a stampede near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday morning.

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How awful. Is there an indication of a cause? I read this at one of the info links on the map this is linked to:

The stampede occurred Thursday morning during the ritual known as "stoning the devil" in the tent city of Mina, about 2 miles from Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

Hundreds have been killed in past years during the same ceremony, and it comes only 13 days after a crane collapse killed more than 100 people at another major Islamic holy site, the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

What is it about this ceremony that causes people to stampede? You'd think that if inciting a stampede is a known danger of the ceremony, the ceremony should be changed.

Edit: From ZeroHedge:

According to the NYT, the deaths occurred around 9 a.m., on the first day of Eid al-Adha, as millions of Muslims were making their pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca. The accident took place at the intersection of two roads in Mina, causing many to fall and others to panic, according to Saudi Arabia’s civil defense directorate.

BBC adds that the incident happened when there was a "sudden increase" in the number of pilgrims heading towards pillars, the statement said.

This "resulted in a stampede among the pilgrims and the collapse of a large number of them", it added.

Security personnel and the Saudi Red Crescent were "immediately" deployed to prevent more people heading towards the area, the directorate said.

What is perplexing is that while today's may be the most bloody stampede in hajj history, it will merely be the latest in a long series of tragic events which seemingly lead to absolutely no change whatsoever.

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