Hajj stampede death toll rises to 769

The death toll from Thursday’s deadly stampede outside Makkah has climbed to 769

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The death toll from Thursday’s deadly stampede outside the holy city of Makkah during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage has climbed to 769, the Saudi Health Minister Khaled Al-Faleh said on Saturday.

The known number of injured now stands at 934, he said in a press conference adding that the Hajj season was void of any epidemics or disease.

A crane collapse in Makkah’s Grand Mosque which claimed the lives of 111 people in the days leading to the pilgrimage posed the first challenge to the Saudi Ministry of Health during this year’s Hajj, Al-Faleh said.

Separately, prominent Iranian writer and academic Sadegh Zibakalam criticized statements made by Iranian officials on the Mina incident saying that they stemmed out of events in Syria and Yemen.

“As opposed to other Muslims, ours were the only reactions aimed at pre-judging who is responsible for the Mina tragedy,” he was quoted by Al Arabiya.net as saying.

“The response [from Iranian officials] was based on unleashing anti-Arab sentiment that many Iranians bear. The horrible Mina incident has allowed Iranians to unload their anger onto Arabs,” he added.

Investigations to determine the cause behind the crush are still ongoing.

A report by Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper claims 300 Iranian pilgrims were moving in the opposite direction against “large convoys” on Street 204 heading to the site where ritual of stoning the devil is performed before the crush happened.

Quoting an unnamed source, the paper claimed that the almost 300 pilgrims did not wait at the site upon completion of the ritual as mandated by Hajj organizers. The worshippers instead moved out onto Street 204 as other groups made their way into the site, the report, cited by Al Arabiya.Net said.

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