Midday Roundup: Stampede near Mecca kills more than 700 pilgrims

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 9/24/15, 11:25 am

Tragic end. More than 700 people died this morning in a stampede during an Islamic pilgrimage ritual near Mecca. More than 2 million Muslims have converged in and around Mecca this year for the Hajj pilgrimage, which includes a ceremonial stoning of three pillars at Mina, the site where Islamic tradition claims God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Similar incidents have happened at Mina in the past, including a stampede in 2006 that killed more than 300 people. After that, the Saudi government remodeled the site to more safely accommodate large crowds. Authorities have not said what caused the stampede at Mina today.

Stepping down. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has resigned amid a scandal over rigged emission controls. Winterkorn said he did nothing wrong personally, but he must accept responsibility as chief executive. Volkswagen cars with diesel engines were sold with software that could sense when the cars were being tested for emissions and turn off some of their pollution controls during everyday driving. Winterkorn’s resignation comes as criminal investigations and lawsuits grow around the globe. The company has already set aside $7.3 billion to deal with the problem, but the $25 billion drop in market value for Volkswagen stock over the past few days is the bigger loss.

Charged. A federal grand jury indicted a U.S. Border Patrol agent on second-degree murder charges in the 2012 cross-border shooting death of a teenager. The Border Patrol said 16-year-old Jose Antonio “Elena” Roderiguez and a group of teens were throwing rocks at agents in Arizona from the Mexican side of the border. Agent Lonnie Swartz shot at the group, and Roderiguez suffered about 10 bullet wounds, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The Border Patrol has authorized the use of firearms against rock-throwers because they can cause serious injury. Roderiguez’s family said he did not throw rocks and was just walking home from a basketball game with friends. Swartz’ attorney said he plans to plead not guilty to the charges.

WORLD Radio’s Mary Reichard and Warren Smith contributed to this report.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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