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Over 700 Dead After Stampede Breaks Out During The Pilgrimage To Mecca

Tragedy struck in Saudi Arabia at approximately 9 am local time when a stampede occurred at the Hajj pilgrimage not far from Mecca.

Over 700 people were killed and at least 800 were injured, NBC News reports.

Over 700 dead in #minastampede. those sitting in walkways are a reason these tragedies happen. But where can they go? pic.twitter.com/gMcbBq05g7 — Ethar El-Katatney (@etharkamal) September 24, 2015

The fatal incident happened during a ritual known as the "Stoning of the Devil."

As CNN explains, during the ritual, which lasts over two days, pilgrims throw stones at the three pillars at Mina where it is believed the devil tried to convince Abraham to disobey God.

Thursday's stampede reportedly occurred after a sudden surge in the crowd caused people to fall.

According to NBC News, thousands of people and hundreds of rescue vehicles rushed to the scene to help.

saudi police everywhere spraying people with water and giving out water. #MinaStampede #hajj pic.twitter.com/Gd8Q4rwgwT — Ethar El-Katatney (@etharkamal) September 24, 2015

It's not the first time an incident such as this occurred during the Hajj pilgrimage, but it's the most deadly incident since a stampede in 1990 that killed 1,426 people.

The worst #hajj-related tragedy was in 1990 when 1426 pilgrims died in a stampede in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel. via @AJEnglish — Dena Takruri (@Dena) September 24, 2015

Correspondingly, just two weeks ago, a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and over 100 people died.

Around two million people participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a journey to Mecca every Muslim must make at least once in his or her lifetime.

Unfortunately, it seems the mass numbers flowing into Mecca continue to have fatal consequences. We can only hope the death toll from Thursday's stampede doesn't continue to rise.

Citations: Stampede kills more than 700 at Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca (CNN), Hajj Stampede Saudi Arabia Says 700 Dead 800 Injured in Mina Near Mecca (NBC News)