NW China pilgrims leave for Mecca

Updated: 2011-10-09 07:21


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GANSU - More than 330 Chinese Muslims boarded a charter flight from northwest Gansu province on Saturday, starting their pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The flight, provided by Air China, took off at 8:25 pm from the airport of the provincial capital Lanzhou and was scheduled to arrive in Mecca on Sunday, said a spokesman with the Islamic Association of Gansu.

It was the first of the 14 charter flights that will carry over 4,600 Muslims in Gansu and its neighboring Qinghai province to Mecca for their annual hajj pilgrimage, said the spokesman.

The Mecca pilgrimage, also known as hajj, is a religious tradition that demands all able-bodied Muslims who can afford to travel to Mecca to make such a trip at least once in their lives.