The September stampede during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia killed at least 2,411 pilgrims, a new Associated Press count shows, three times the number of deaths acknowledged by the kingdom three months later.
Associated Press count of the death toll during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage at Mecca is almost three times higher than the number of deaths acknowledged by the Saudi government.
After a fatal crane collapse in Makkah, another stampede incident saw the death of over 700 people according to government figures which if are anything to go by, still makes this year’s Hajj the deadliest in the history of the Hajj.
King Salman ordered an investigation into the deaths however few new details have emerged since, despite allegations and criticism from Iran that the Saudi government was negligent in relation to the safety of Hajj pilgrims and was understating that actual death toll.
The figures released by the Associated Press are based on official death tolls of 36 out of 180 countries whose citizens participated in this year’s Hajj. The official death toll remains at 769 and Saudi governments have still not provided an explanation for the huge difference in findings.
It is believed that the state run Saudi Press Agency has refrained from further inquiry into the investigation of the deaths because the interior ministry will ultimately be responsible for any negligence discovered on the part of the Saudi Government, and considering that the interior ministry is headed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, it is seen as an attempt to protect the reputation of the future King and his family as the Al-Saud family manages Islam’s Holiest sites and the King is the custodian of the two Holy Mosques.
Although the Saudi Government has spent billions of dollars on crowd control and safety measure, the sheer number of pilgrims makes this a difficult task. Iran is the country that recorded the highest number of deaths according to the Associated Press figures with 464 deaths followed by Mali with 205 people, and Nigeria at 274 people.