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Haj stampede: UN chief deeply saddened over deaths

United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he was deeply saddened to learn of the death of more than 700 Haj pilgrims as a result of a stampede near Mina in Saudi Arabia.

“This tragic incident is all the more distressing as it took place on the first day of the Holy Eid Al-Adha marking the end of the annual Haj season,” Xinhua reported quoting a statement issued here by Ban’s spokesman on Thursday.

The secretary-general also extended his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and expresses his sympathies to all the governments concerned, the statement added.

The stampede happened amid a rush of the stoning as part of Haj rituals on Thursday. Muslim pilgrims throw stones on a wall representing devil.

This was the second major incident involving massive casualties this month in Saudi Arabia.

On September 11, over 100 pilgrims were killed in a crane crash at Grand Mosque of Mecca.