Death Toll In Hajj Stampede Rises To 769

Sep 26, 2015
Originally published on September 28, 2015 6:05 am

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The death toll in a stampede of hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia this week has risen to 769, many of whom are Iranians. Tehran has denounced the tragedy as a "crime."

"The latest statistics up to this hour reveal 769 dead. That is an increase of 52 on the previous figures," Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih told a new conference, according to Arab News.

"Those are the ones who died in various hospitals since the event," he said, adding that 934 people had been injured in the deadly crush of people as they carried out a symbolic stoning of the devil on Thursday.

Iran has reported the biggest number of deaths at 136, with Morocco coming next with 87.

Survivors and witnesses have said inadequate security near the most sacred sites on the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca contributed to the stampede. The reports have set up a war of words between mainly Shiite Iran and overwhelmingly Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Iran's Supreme National Security Council had accused Riyadh of incompetence, but according to Reuters, Iran's Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raisi went further today.

"'We will urge international courts and circles to start the trial of the Saudis for their crimes against haj pilgrims,' Iran's Prosecutor General Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as saying by student news agency ISNA on Saturday.

"'This is not incompetence, it's a crime,' he told state broadcaster IRIB."

More than 300 Iranians remain unaccounted for, including former ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi, according to Fars news agency.

Meanwhile, as the BBC reports Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh told Interior Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also head of the Supreme Hajj Committee, that he is "not responsible for what happened."

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