Hajj Stampede Killed Three Times Saudi Arabia's Official Number, Says Report

Saudi's King Salman ordered an investigation into the tragedy almost immediately, yet few details have been made public since and hundreds of pilgrims remain missing.

The new count by the Associated Press agency is based on state media reports and officials' comments from 36 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the hajj.

Picture of the scene tweeted by @Saudinews50

The state-run Saudi Press Agency has not mentioned the investigation into the disaster since October 19, when it reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also 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 any blame cast on the Interior Ministry, which oversees safety during the hajj, could reflect negatively on him.

The ruling Al Saud family maintains its major influence in the Muslim world through its oil wealth and its management of Islam's holiest sites. Like Saudi monarchs before him, King Salman has taken the title of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Authorities have said the Mina crush and stampede occurred when two waves of pilgrims converged on a narrow road, suffocating or trampling to death those caught in the disaster. Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on crowd control and safety measures for those attending the annual five-day pilgrimage, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, but the sheer number of participants makes ensuring their safety difficult.

Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice) is celebrated throughout the Muslim world as a commemoration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God, and cows, camels, goats and sheep are traditionally slaughtered on the holiest dayMuslim pilgrims walk on roads as they head to cast stones at pillars symbolizing Satan during the annual hajj pilgrimage in Mina on the first day of Eid al-Adha, near the holy city of Mecca   Photo: REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

The hajj this year drew some 2 million pilgrims, though in recent years it has drawn more than 3 million without any major incidents.

Iran was most affected by the disaster, according to the AP count, with 464 Iranian pilgrims killed. Mali said it lost 305 people, while Nigeria lost 274 and 190 pilgrims from Egypt were killed.

Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/12044550/Hajj-stampede-killed-three-times-Saudi-Arabias-official-number.html

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