The Hajj Administrative Center in Mecca announced on Friday that four Turkish citizens were among the more than 700 hundred pilgrims who were killed in a stampede during the annual Hajj performance.
The Saudi officials also reported that five more pilgrims of Turkish nationality are still considered missing.
At least 719 Hajj pilgrims were killed on Thursday in a stampede at Mina, five kilometers outside of the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia's civil defence authority reported on Twitter.
Following the incident, Turkey’s head of Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez, stated in a press conference that hundreds of Turkish pilgrims who went to Mecca under the direction of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs were not at the site of incident when the tragedy happened.
“According to eyewitness statements, I think there is a serious management problem. It's crucial for the Muslim world to discuss the safety of pilgrimage again,” he added.
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.
The Hajj is considered to be a religious duty for all Muslims and it is expected that they carry it out at least once in their lifetimes if they are able to do so.