At least 345 people were killed in a stampede, which occurred in Mecca as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones to purge themselves of sin.
The Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said 345 people died. More than 1,000 people were wounded, said Dr. Abbasi with the Saudi Red Crescent. State-run Saudi television Al-Ekhbariyah reported that most of the victims were from South Asia.
The stampede took place as pilgrims were rushing to complete the last of three days of the stoning ritual before sunset, al-Turki, added, according to the AP. Some of the pilgrims started to trip over dropped luggage, causing a large pileup, he said.
The site is a bottleneck for the massive crowds that attend the annual hajj pilgrimage and has seen deadly stampedes in the past, including one in 1990 that killed 1,426 people and another in February 2004 that killed 244.
The latest incident came despite Saudi efforts to ease the flow of traffic around al-Jamarat.