New 1,453 death toll makes Saudi hajj stampede deadliest ever
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The crush and stampede last month outside of Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca killed at least 1,453 people during the hajj, a new tally showed on Friday to make it the deadliest event to ever strike the annual pilgrimage.
The Associated Press count is 684 higher than Saudi Arabia’s official tally of 769 killed and 934 injured in the Sept. 24 disaster in Mina.
Saudi officials, who could not be immediately reached for comment Friday, previously have said their tally remains accurate, though an investigation into the causes of the tragedy is ongoing. Authorities have not updated their casualty toll since Sept. 26, two days after the disaster.
The previous deadliest-ever incident happened in 1990, when a stampede killed 1,426 people.
The AP figure comes from statements and officials’ comments from 19 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the five-day annual pilgrimage.
Authorities have said the Sept. 24 crush and stampede occurred when two waves of pilgrims converged on a narrow road, causing hundreds of people to suffocate or be trampled to death. Iran says it had 465 pilgrims killed, while Egypt lost 148 and Indonesia 120.
Others include India with 101, Nigeria with 99, Pakistan with 93, Mali with 70, Bangladesh with 63, Senegal with 54, Benin with 51, Cameroon with 42, Ethiopia with 31, Sudan with 30, Morocco with 27, Algeria with 25, Ghana with 12, Chad with 11, Kenya with eight and Turkey with three. Hundreds remain missing, according to these countries.
Shiite power Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia’s Mideast rival, has blamed the disaster on the kingdom’s “mismanagement” and accused Riyadh of a cover-up, saying the real death toll exceeds 4,700, without providing evidence to support the claim.
Iran has called for an independent body to take over planning and administering the five-day hajj pilgrimage, required of all able Muslims once in their lifetimes. But the ruling Al Saud family likely would never give up its role in administering the holy sites, which along with Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth gives it major influence in the Muslim world. King Salman himself is known as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.