Turkey’s head of Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez said on Thursday that 14 Turkish pilgrims from two travel agencies remain missing after the stampede at Mina, five kilometres outside of the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at a press conference, following the incident, Mehmet Gormez stated that hundreds of Turkish pilgrims who went to Mecca within the organisation of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs were not at the site of incident when the tragedy happened.
“However, a total of 18 pilgrims from two independent Turkish travel agencies were there when the stampede happened and we haven't been able to reach those pilgrims yet,” Gormez continued.
Later, officials linked to Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs stated that they have managed to reach four out of 18 pilgrims. However, 14 pilgrims remain missing, following the Mina stampede.
“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,” Turkey’s head of Religious Affairs Gormez added.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday expressed his condolences to the families of the killed pilgrims.
Erdogan in a written statement said that “I ask Allah to show mercy on all the Muslim brothers and sisters killed in the accident.”
According to Saudi officials, some 2 million Muslims from around the world are participating in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
Thursday’s deadly stampede comes two weeks after 107 people were killed when a crane collapsed in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, which had been teeming with Muslim worshippers at the time of the accident.