Total Mecca Death Toll Reaches 829

Associated Press

A total of 270 pilgrims died in a stampede during this week's symbolic "stoning the devil" ritual of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the government said Friday.

An official statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said a total of 829 people died during this year's hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

In addition to the 270 people trampled in Monday's stampede, the toll included 536 who died of natural causes such as sunstroke, old age or heart attack, and 23 who died in several isolated accidents.

The government attributed the stampede to circumstances "beyond human endurance," noting that an all-time record of more than 2.5 million Muslims converged on Mecca for this year's rituals. Hospital sources and Asian diplomats earlier reported a much larger number of pilgrims killed in the stampede, with some putting the figure as high as 1,000.

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