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Spread of MERS in Saudi Arabia accelerates with 17 new cases

By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has discovered another 17 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), as the total number of confirmed infections of the SARS-like disease has jumped by a third in the kingdom in the past week. King Abdullah replaced the health minister, Abdullah al-Rabeeah, on Monday amid growing public disquiet at the spread of the disease, which was discovered two years ago and kills around a third of sufferers.

Hotel blaze kills 12 pilgrims in Saudi holy city

A fire killed 12 people and injured 130 others in a hotel where pilgrims had been staying in the Saudi holy city of Medina on Saturday, state-run news agency SPA reported. Officials did not identify the victims but said around 700 pilgrims had been staying in staying at the hotel in Medina, in western Saudi Arabia, to perform the omra, or minor, pilgrimage. Television stations in Egypt said Egyptians were among those killed in the blaze, and foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Cairo was "still trying to confirm the numbers" of nationals who died.

Blaze kills 12 pilgrims in Saudi holy city hotel

A fire killed 12 people and injured 130 others in a pilgrim hotel in the Saudi holy city of Medina Saturday, the state-run SPA news agency reported. Officials did not identify the victims but said around 700 pilgrims were staying at the hotel in Medina, in western Saudi Arabia, to perform the omra pilgrimage. The fire broke out in the afternoon and was brought under control a few hours later, with survivors were transferred to other hotels in the city. Authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze.

Pilgrims start leaving Saudi Arabia after hajj

Some 1.4 million Muslim pilgrims who came from 188 countries started leaving Saudi Arabia on Thursday at the end of this year's largely incident-free hajj. Although the hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, comes to a close officially on Friday, pilgrims are allowed to leave a day early after taking part in the stoning of the devil ritual. Pilgrims woke up early on Thursday and began stoning three huge concrete structures in Mina representing Satan straight after sunrise, in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

Pilgrims head out of Saudi after hajj 'success'

Some 1.4 million Muslim pilgrims from 188 countries started to leave Saudi Arabia on Thursday at the end of what authorities hailed as a successful and incident-free hajj. Mecca's provincial governor, Prince Khaled al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, said the 2013 hajj marked a "qualitative turning point" in the organisation of the annual pilgrimage, marred in previous years by deadly fires and stampedes.

Muslim pilgrims ritually stone devil as hajj nears end

Throngs of Muslim pilgrims took part in the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual for a second day Wednesday in Saudi Arabia's Mina Valley, as the annual hajj neared its end. Around two million men, women and children from 188 countries are attending this year's pilgrimage, according to Saudi Arabia's public statistics office. This is down from 3.16 million last year, after the kingdom cut the quotas over fears of infections from the MERS respiratory virus and because of massive projects to expand the capacity of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest place of worship.

Pilgrims perform ritual Devil stoning as haj draws to a close

By Amena Bakr MENA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims performed the ritual stoning of the Devil on Wednesday as the annual haj season drew to a close with no significant tragedies reported by Saudi authorities who were determined to ensure a safe pilgrimage.

Muslim pilgrims ritually stone devil as hajj nears end

Throngs of Muslim pilgrims took part in the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual for a second day Wednesday in Saudi Arabia's Mina valley, as the annual hajj neared its end. Around two million men, women and children from 188 countries are attending this year's pilgrimage, according to Saudi Arabia's public statistics office. This is down from 3.16 million last year, after the kingdom cut the quotas over fears of infections from the MERS respiratory virus and because of massive projects to expand the capacity of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest place of worship.

Muslim pilgrims stone devil in ritual as hajj nears end

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims took part in the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual for a second day Wednesday in Saudi Arabia's Mina valley, as the annual hajj neared its end. Men, women and children from 188 countries pelted three huge concrete structures representing the devil with pebbles, in an event that seemed better organised than in previous years. The faithful began the final stages of the annual hajj pilgrimage on Tuesday, which was also the first day of Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.

Some 2 mn Muslims stone devil in final hajj ritual

Around two million Muslims converged on Mina, Saudi Arabia Tuesday to symbolically stone the devil, the final stage of the annual hajj pilgrimage that has so far gone off without incident. The occasion coincides with the first day of Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, which is celebrated by Muslims around the world. The numbers were sharply lower this year because quotas were reduced due to massive construction work to expand the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest workship place, and fears over the deadly MERS coronavirus.
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