Sunday, September 11, 2016

Stampede At Hajj In Saudi Arabia Reportedly Killed More Than 7000

Although the official Saudi toll from the hajj disaster stands at 769 deaths, the AP estimates that nearly 2,200 people actually perished.

The crush and stampede that struck the hajj last month in Saudi Arabia killed more than 7000 pilgrims, a new Associated Press tally showed Monday, after officials in the kingdom met to discuss the tragedy.

The toll keeps rising from the Sept. 24 disaster outside Mecca as individual countries identify bodies and work to determine the whereabouts of hundreds of pilgrims still missing.

It came after a crane collapse in Mecca earlier that month killed 111 worshippers, and the twin disasters marred the first hajj to be overseen by the king since he ascended to the throne at the start of this year.

The Saudi king apparently holds the title of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” but after the last year suspected catastrophe, the Islam world call Saudis authorities, traitors to the Muslim world. Riyadh has rejected a suggestion by Shiite power Iran, its main regional rival, to have an independent body take over planning and administering the five-day hajj pilgrimage.

Iran has repeatedly blamed the disaster on the Saudi royal family, accusing it of mismanagement and of covering up the real death toll, which Tehran says exceeds 7000 of hajj pilgrims.

“The lying and hypercritical bodies, which claim to (be promoting) human rights, as well as the Western governments, which sometimes make great fuss over the death of a single person, remained dead silent in this incident in favor of their allied government,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday, according to a transcript on his website.

“If they were sincere, these self-proclaimed advocates of human rights should have demanded accountability, compensation, guarantee for non-recurrence and punishment for the perpetrators of this catastrophe.”

Saudi Arabia has meanwhile been targeted in gun and bomb attacks by an affiliate of the ISIS group, which holds a third of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared “caliphate.” Like al-Qaida before it, the IS group views the Saudi royal family as illegitimate because of alleged corruption and its alliance with the United States.

After the hajj stampede, Iranians protested in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. They blamed the Arab country for the deadly stampede.

Iran leads all the affected countries, saying it had about 500 pilgrims killed. Many of the dead also came from Africa. Others include Egypt 450, Bangladesh with at least 150.

The previous and now the second deadliest-ever incident at hajj was a 1990 stampede that killed 1,426 people.

{gallery}Hajj Stampede 2015{/gallery}

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