Saudi not updating Hajj death toll to save crown prince image: Report
Saudi Arabia is reluctant to update the death toll for the the deadly human crush during this year’s Hajj rituals in Mina in a bid to save the image of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, a report says.
According to a report by The Associated Press on Thursday, since September 26, the Saudi government has not changed its September toll of 769 deaths.
It also said that the state-run Saudi Press Agency has made no mention of the results of an investigation ordered by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud into the incident.
Any blame cast on the Saudi Interior Ministry, which oversees safety during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, could reflect negatively on Nayef, who also serves as the minister, the report said.
The AP report also provided a fresh death toll for the tragedy, saying at least 2,411 pilgrims lost their lives.
The new count is based on state media reports as well as official comments from 36 of the more than 180 countries that sent citizens to the Hajj.
Iran was most affected by the disaster, with over 460 of its nationals killed.
The Mina incident happened on September 24 during this year’s Hajj rituals after two large masses of pilgrims fused at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of the holy city of Mecca, on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan ritual in Jamarat.
Officials with Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people lost their lives in the tragedy.
The Islamic Republic has criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to responsibly carry out its duties during Hajj, saying Riyadh’s incompetence in handling safety at the rituals caused the deadly incident.