At least 200 pilgrims were killed on Thursday in a crush at Mina outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca, where some two million people are performing the annual haj pilgrimage.

Nearly 400 others were injured in the stampede that took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, a few km from Mecca, where pilgrims from across the world stay for several days during Haj.

The stampede took place during the stoning ceremony, said officials.

Street 204 is one of the two main arteries leading through the camp at Mina to Jamarat, where pilgrims ritually stone the devil. Stones are thrown at three large pillarsl.

Thursday is also Eid al-Adha, when Muslims slaughter a sheep. It has traditionally been the most dangerous day of haj because vast numbers of pilgrims attempt to perform rituals at the same time in a single location.

inherit; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Roboto, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; line-height: 24px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Over one lakh Indians are among the millions participating in Haj this year.

Images on television and social media showed pilgrims on stretchers and emergency workers at the site.

"Work is underway to separate large groups of people and direct pilgrims to alternative routes," the Saudi Civil Defence said on its Twitter account.

This is the second major disaster at Mecca this month after over  100 people were killed on September 18 when a construction crane crashed on the Grand Mosque.

The pilgrimage, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been prone to disasters in the past, mainly from stampedes as pilgrims rushed to complete rituals and return home. Hundreds of pilgrims died in a stampede in 2006. Massive infrastructure upgrades and extensive spending on crowd control technology over the past two decades had made such events far less common.
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