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Near Mecca, as pilgrims from around the world observed the first day of Eid al-Adha on Thursday morning, a time of prayer and spiritual reflection turned violent and tragic when more than 700 people were killed in a stampede.
It's not the first time a deadly accident has taken place during the pilgrimage. But it's the worst incident of its kind in 25 years.
In a statement, the Saudi health minister said the stampede was “possibly caused by the movement of some pilgrims who didn’t follow the guidelines and instructions issued by the responsible authorities.”
Thousands of emergency workers were reportedly sent to the scene, where they rushed hundreds of injured pilgrims to the hospital.
The accident raises questions about the Saudi government's responsibility to ensure security as, year after year, the number of pilgrims arriving for the hajj only grows.
Dilshad Ali performed the hajj with her husband, in 2005. She's the editor of the Muslim channel at Patheos.com.
What you'll learn from this segment:
- What it's like to take the hajj
- How the Saudi government may change its infrastructure to protect visitors
- How Muslim communities are reacting to this tragedy during a holy time of year