Death toll after Hajj stampede reaches 769

Iran calls for international legal action against Saudi kingdom as number of deaths rise to 769 after tragic Hajj stampede

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Aerial view of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca September 25, 2015.

The death toll of Hajj pilgrims rose to 769 on Saturday, after a mass stampede outside the holy city of Mecca on September 24, reports Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Khalid al Falih.

The additional 52 deaths reported are those “who died in various hospitals since the event,” Falih said in a news conference. The number of injured has also been reported to have increased to 934.

The stampede took place at a crossroad on Street 204 at the camp city in Mina, 5 kilometres east of Mecca.

According to the Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al Turki, the unprecedented number of pilgrims entering the street at the time was what caused the death of hundreds. However, an official statement outlining the cause is yet to be released.

Iran who remains largely skeptical over the recent Hajj tragedies has suggested "ineptitude" on the part of Saudi authorities. 

“We will urge international courts and circles to start the trial of the Saudis for their crimes against hajj pilgrims,” Iran’s Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as saying by student news agency ISNA on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday ordered for an investigation to be carried out over the tragic stampede at the UN General Assembly.

Conversely, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said the Hajj stampede tragedy was beyond human control and Saudi officials are not responsible.

"You are not responsible for what happened. You dealt with the beneficial factors that were in your hands and within your ability. As for the things that humans cannot control, you cannot be blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable," said the mufti in a televised statement referring to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is also the minister of interior, and chair to the Saudi Hajj committee.

Saudi Arabian King Salman ordered an instant review of Hajj safety plans on Thursday in a televised speech, following a deadly stampede that killed over 700 people and injured almost 1,000 of various nationalities.

The Saudi royal family currently takes on the official role to protect the visitors to mosques at the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia's King Salman has the title of "custodian of the two holy mosques."

Throughout history Mecca has witnessed similar stampedes which have killed hundreds of pilgrims. However, such an incident had not occurred since 2006 after the Saudi government stepped up safety measures. The most severe stampede, which claimed the lives of 1,426 people, occurred in 1990 when pilgrims were crushed inside the tunnel from Mecca to Mina.

Earlier this month at least 107 people lost their lives after a crane collapsed onto Mecca's Grand Mosque. Severe weather conditions appear to have been the main cause of the accident, although Saudi authorities have reported that investigations are still ongoing.

Despite the devastating events which took place before and throughout the 2015 Hajj ritual, pilgrims on Saturday have successfully reached the final day of their annual Hajj journey.


TRTWorld and agencies