13 January 2006 -- Families are today looking for loved ones after a stampede in Saudi Arabia killed nearly 350 people during the hajj pilgrimage.
The pilgrims were crushed at the entrance to a bridge near Mecca as thousands of people tried to complete a stoning ritual symbolizing rejection of Satan.
Saudi authorities blamed the crush on pilgrims who were carrying bulky baggage during the ritual despite officials' warnings.
The stampede was the worst tragedy to beset the pilgrimage in more than a decade.
(Reuters, AFP, AP)
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THE HAJJ: Every year, Islamic pilgrims converge on the Saudi holy city of Mecca for what is considered to be the world's largest single gathering of human beings -- the annual hajj pilgrimage, the fifth and final pillar of Islam. Hajj literally means "to set out for a place," and every able-bodied Muslim with the means to do so is expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime, traditionally after first settling all their wordly affairs...(more)