Report: Hajj Death Toll Almost Double Saudi Arabia's Official Figure

Hajj Rising Death Toll
The crush was the deadliest to occur near the holy site in a quarter of a century Ali Jarekji/Reuters

The number of pilgrims killed as a result of the deadly crush near the Muslim holy city of Mecca last month is double that of Saudi Arabia's official toll, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The AP says the death toll has now reached at least 1,399 people, 630 more than the kingdom's official tally, which currently stands at 769. This figure has not been updated since September 26, two days after the disaster.

The AP count of the dead is based on figures offered by 18 of over 100 countries whose citizens took part in the hajj pilgrimage this year. Iran says 465 of its citizens were killed in the disaster, while Egypt lost 148 and Indonesia 120.

Others include Nigeria with 99 dead, Pakistan with 89, India with 81, Mali with 70, Bangladesh with 63, Senegal with 54, Benin with 51, Cameroon with 42, Ethiopia with 31, Morocco with 27, Algeria with 25, Ghana with 12, Chad with 11, Kenya with eight and Turkey with three, according to the AP.

However some of these figures may now be higher than when the AP published its report. The number of Indians killed in the incident near the Muslim holy city of Mecca last month has now risen above 100, according to the BBC. India's foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, tweeted that the number of Indians who had died now stood at 101, while 32 others are still missing.

AFP puts the toll at 1,221, while BBC Monitoring puts it at 1,216, based on official statements and media reports from 34 countries who lost citizens in the incident.

The crush was the deadliest to occur near the holy site in a quarter of a century. It occurred as thousands of pilgrims traveled through Mina on the second day of the pilgrimage to perform a ritual called "the stoning of the devil." The BBC reported that the crush occurred as two large groups of pilgrims met at right angles near the pillars.

While Saudi authorities blamed the disaster on a stampede caused by people running in a panic, crowd management experts told Newsweek last month that a deadly crush, known as a "progressive crowd collapse" was more likely to blame.

Saudi Health Minister Khaled al-Falih blamed the pilgrims for the disaster, telling the Arabic television channel, El-Ekhbariya that they had moved "without respecting the timetables" of the pilgrimage. An investigation by the Saudi authorities is ongoing.

Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival regional power, has criticied Saudi incompetence for the disaster and has said it is prepared to "use the language of force" if necessary to get to the bottom of what happened.

Report: Hajj Death Toll Almost Double Saudi Arabia's Official Figure | World