• Muslim pilgrims mass in Mecca for hajj


    MECCA: Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world on Tuesday began moving from the holy city of Mecca to nearby Mina for the start of the hajj, the world’s largest annual gathering. Almost two million people are expected to take part in this year’s pilgrimage, undeterred by a crane collapse in Mecca earlier this month, caused by unusually high winds, that killed 109 people and injured nearly 400 at Islam’s holiest site. Previously marred by stampedes and fires that killed hundreds, the hajj had otherwise been largely incident-free for the past decade after safety improvements.



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