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First group of Chinese pilgrims leave for Mecca

(Xinhua)

15:11, October 07, 2011

BEIJING, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The first group of Chinese Muslim pilgrims left Beijing for Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Religious officials and the Saudi Arabian ambassador to China saw the 664 pilgrims off at the airport before they boarded two chartered flights, provided by Air China, bound for Saudi Arabia. The pilgrims come from six provincial-level regions, including central China's Henan province and north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

More than 13,700 Chinese Muslim pilgrims are scheduled to take 41 chartered flights to Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which will last from Nov. 5 to 9. The flights will be operated by Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

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