Hundreds of deaths reported in Hajj stampede at Mina

The stoning of the devil ritual in Mina

At least 700 people taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage have been killed in a stampede in Mina, officials in Saudi Arabia say.

Another 450 people were injured in the incident, which occurred as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite – the stoning of the devil ritual.

The Saudi civil defence directorate said on Twitter that 4,000 personnel had been sent to the scene of Thursday’s stampede, along with more than 220 emergency and rescue units. The injured are being taken to four hospitals in the area.

Photos published by the directorate showed rescue workers treating the injured on stretchers and loading them on to ambulances.

It said the victims were of “different nationalities”, without providing details.

The UK Foreign Office said it was in contact with the local authorities and was urgently seeking more information about whether British nationals were involved.

The civil defence directorate did not say what caused the stampede.

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Mina, a large valley about 5 km (3 miles) from Mecca, also houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.

The stampede was the deadliest at the Hajj since 2006, when more than 360 pilgrims were killed in the same area.

The Saudi authorities have been working on improving transport and other infrastructure in the area in an attempt to try to prevent such incidents.

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