October 21, 2016

‘Three times more’ people killed in Hajj than admitted by Saudi Arabia

Eid al-Adha also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia (AFP/Getty) FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

|The Independent|
A stampede during the hajj in Saudi Arabia killed three times the number of people acknowledged by the Kingdom, according to theAssociated Press.

A new count reveals at least 2,411 people died during the crush at Mina on 24 September, despite the official Saudi toll of 769 deaths not changing since 26 September.

The news figures reported by Associated Press establish the crush as the deadliest in the history of the annual pilgrimage.

Iran was the most affected by the disaster, with 464 Iranian pilgrims killed. Mali lost 35 people, Nigeria lost 274 and 109 Egyptians were killed, according to the AP count.

Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Cameroon and Pakistan all lost over 100 pilgrims, while many other countries across the globe where affected.

Saudi officials have yet to address the discrepancy and rebuffed criticism from its regional Shiite rival Iran and efforts by other countries to join a probe into the deaths.

Despite King Salman ordering an investigation very soon after the tragedy, few details about the stampede have been published since.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency has not mentioned the investigation into the disaster since 19 October, when it reported Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Kingdom’s interior minister, was “reassured on the progress of the investigations”.

The Crown Prince is the next in line to the throne and the Interior Ministry oversees safety during the Hajj.

Authorities have said the Mina crush and stampede occurred when two waves of pilgrims met on a narrow road, suffocating or trampling to death those caught up in the crowd.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions on crowd control and safety measures for those attending the annual five-day pilgrimage, which is required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their lifetime, however the vast number of people taking part in the pilgrimage makes ensuring safety difficult.

The hajj this year drew around two million pilgrims, however in recent years three million have attended the pilgrimage without any major incidents.

The second deadliest hajj was a 1990 stampede, which killed 1,426 people.

The tragedy occurred just weeks after a fatal crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, which killed 111 people.

Related posts