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Death Toll in Hajj Stampede Near Mecca Rises to 180

April 11, 1998| Associated Press

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Muslim pilgrims surging forward to take part Thursday in a ritual known as "stoning the devil" had overwhelmed security forces struggling to control the crowd, a Saudi official was quoted as saying Friday. Saudi doctors put the death toll in the resulting stampede at 180.

The victims were trampled or plunged to their deaths during the chaos in Mina, about three miles from Mecca, where Muslims from around the world had gathered for the annual hajj, or pilgrimage. Most of the dead were elderly, a doctor said.

While the official death toll was 118, Saudi doctors in Mecca and Mina said 180 people died.

More than 250 people were injured, they said.

Before the crush began Thursday, police had been restraining crowds outside the area where pilgrims join in "stoning the devil," in which pebbles are thrown at three pillars symbolizing the temptations of Satan.

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