Saudi Arabia to investigate deadly Hajj stampede

Saudi crown prince orders probe into deadly stampede which killed hundreds and left hundreds of others injured

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of Saudi Red Crescent tend to pilgrims who were victims of a crush caused by large numbers of people pushing at Mina outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Salman bn Abdulaziz has ordered the Saudi authorities to fully investigate the deadly stampede that took place yesterday during the annual Hajj pilgrimage which killed at least 719 people and injured 863 according to Saudi state media.

"We have instructed concerned authorities to review the operations plan ... [and] to raise the level of organization and management to ensure that the guests of God perform their rituals in comfort and ease," said the King. 

Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, the head of Hajj committee, conveyed the order during a meeting with authorities in charge of the pilgrimage in Mina .

King Salman also offered deep condolences over the tragic event.

About 4,000 health service personnel were deployed in an operation to help the injured and about 220 ambulances were sent to the location, a civil defence spokesman said.

Stampede during Hajj

Two waves of pilgrims combining together at an intersection may have caused the accident, the Saudi Arabian interior ministry said.

A Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and fatigue may also have been factors which led to the deadliest such disaster in more than two decades.

But the head of Iran's Hajj committee, Said Ohadi, said that for "unknown reasons" two roads had been closed off near the area at which the ritual stoning of the devil takes place where the stampede occured.

"This caused this tragic incident," he said on state television, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Ohadi also said the road closures had left only three paths to the symbolic site where the stoning ritual took place.

The stampede took place in a street between the pilgrim camps in Mina, according to Al Jazeera. 

"The street where it happened is named Street 204," Al Jazeera's Basma Atassi said while reporting from Mina.

"During and after the stampede the pilgrims continued to flock into Mina to perform the devil stoning ritual." 

TRTWorld and agencies