Saudi crown prince orders probe into deadly Hajj stampede

By AFP
Published: September 24, 2015
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Saudi medics tend to injured pilgrims after they arrived at an emergency hospital following a deadly stampede in Mina, near the holy city of Makkah, on the first day of Eidul-Adha on September 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Saudi medics tend to injured pilgrims after they arrived at an emergency hospital following a deadly stampede in Mina, near the holy city of Makkah, on the first day of Eidul-Adha on September 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MINA / MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered an investigation into the stampede at the Hajj pilgrimage, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who chairs the Saudi Hajj committee, ordered the probe during a meeting with senior officials responsible for the pilgrimage in Mina, where the stampede took place.

The findings of the investigation will be submitted to King Salman, “who will take appropriate measures” in response, the agency added.

Thursday’s tragedy comes on the heels of another one, in which 108 people were killed when a massive construction crane collapsed on Mecca’s Grand Mosque on September 11 as thousands were gathering for the Hajj.

At the time, Nayef said the accident would not affect this year’s pilgrimage and that the safety of pilgrims was a “priority”.

Earlier Thursday, Health Minister Khaled al Faleh promised that there would be a rapid and transparent investigation of the stampede, which he blamed on undisciplined pilgrims not following instructions.

The health minister was quoted by El Ekhbariya television as saying “many pilgrims move without respecting the timetables” established by authorities, which was the “principal reason for this type of accident.”

“If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided.”

Read: At least 717 pilgrims killed, 805 injured in Hajj stampede at Mina

At least 717 pilgrims died while another 805 were wounded in a stampede during the stoning of Satan at Mina, the Saudi civil defence said.

The pilgrims were killed in a crush at Mina, outside the holy city of Makkah, where some two million people are performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

‘Safety errors’

Earlier, Iran had accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors after at least 15 of its citizens died in the stampede.

Read: Iran accuses Saudi of Hajj safety errors after stampede

The head of Iran’s Hajj organisation, Said Ohadi, said that for “unknown reasons” two paths had been closed off near the scene of the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the accident later took place.

“This caused this tragic incident,” he said on Iranian state television, giving the death toll, indicating that fatalities and casualties could rise.

Ohadi said the path closures had left only three routes to the area where the stoning ceremony was held.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Waheed
    Sep 24, 2015 - 7:04PM

    The Saudi Minister blaming the pilgrims needs to be fired by the Saudi government. His statement is cruel. Saudi government should at least accept responsibility for over 700 deaths and over 800 injuries because of its inadequate arrangements.

    As the custodian of the holy sites and as the host country, it is the responsibility of the Saudi government to build and organize appropriate and safe facilities for the pilgrims, a high priority task which the Saudi government has failed to deliver upon as of to date. The pilgrims deserve a safe and secure spiritual experience free from diseases and safety hazards. Saudi Arabia is not a poor country and the pilgrims spend lots of their hard earned money which supports the Saudi economy; therefore it is an obligation of Saudi Arabia to spend whatever it takes to make the pilgrims comfortable and safe. Why is the Saudi government giving Hajj visas to so many pilgrims if it cannot host them and protect them.Recommend

  • Ray
    Sep 24, 2015 - 7:22PM

    If Saudi authorities paid as much attention to improving the hajj facilities as they have in building luxury hotels who resemble casinos of monte carlo these kind of tragedies can be avoided and if we have religious scholars and not peasants leading us then we will know that throwing rocks at a hill serves no useful purpose….especially considering lives lost every year…Saudis are a wahab sect they should know this is useless ritual.
    They have no mass transit system and no educational system for the pilgrims most of whom behave like animals with no courtesy for woman children and elderly.Recommend

  • PakPower
    Sep 24, 2015 - 8:20PM

    I think putting a blame on those who can’t defend themselves is shameful and undisciplined on this Saudi minister’s part. Pathetic.Recommend

  • cautious
    Sep 24, 2015 - 8:43PM

    If the same thing happened in Pakistan I suspect Nisar would be blaming “foreigners” and casting aspersions against NGO’s. Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country that tends to blame others when things go south.Recommend

  • Sep 24, 2015 - 8:55PM

    shame on Saudi minister!! it is responsibly of Saudi government to make safety of Pilgrims. If not this responsibly should be given to joint Muslim countries .Recommend

  • Waqar Hassan Butt
    Sep 24, 2015 - 9:01PM

    I don;t agree with the Honorable Minister that the pilgrims were responsible for the stampede. Most of the pilgrims coming to perform Hajj are new and they come for the first time, so they need guidance at every step. If the people responsible for maintaining order were performing their duties honestly,this may not have happened,what we have been watching now the 2nd biggest tragedy in the Mina History after 1990. My heart goes to the families who lost their loved ones.May Allah grant Ganah to all those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.Recommend

  • hsa
    Sep 24, 2015 - 9:08PM

    I think muslims need to start calling out saudi arabia for their stupidness. Why dont we pakistanis protest outside the saudi embassy? Why arent we more anti saudi? Look what they have done to pakistan. Saudi arabia and Islam are two different things. We must learn to understand that.Recommend

  • ishtiaq
    Sep 24, 2015 - 10:07PM

    I feel it is the lack of guidance to pilgrims that has caused this havoc. Saudi government should must build a huge force of vigilant people for hajj days who provide guidance to pilgrims on each and every occasion of activities like stoning ‘sataan’ – specially at the timings of entry and exit of the place. Since this type of tragedy has almost become the feature of hajj days Saudi government may hire specialists from other Islamic countries to counter such incidents. May Allah help Saudi government to overcome such tragic happening in future.Recommend

  • Jut
    Sep 24, 2015 - 11:41PM

    @hsa:
    Take a chill pill sir. No need to get excited about this. Protest about what? Saudis have to manage 2 million plus pilgrims which is not easy. Having said this I am sure corrective action will be taken. No doubt about it. It’s their responsibility and they will sort it out. Recommend

  • fazel
    Sep 24, 2015 - 11:51PM

    I have said it again and again … The Government of Saudi Arabia does not care about Muslims . watch out more.Recommend

  • Zeshan
    Sep 25, 2015 - 1:12AM

    I think , with a gathering of enormous magnitude, such incidents are potentially possible. No administration can be 100 % on the mark. More than 2.5 million INDIVIDUALS were there. Every individual is different with different level of awareness. Nowadays, every Hujj is preceded by long preparation at state level. Every Pilgrim is given the necessary education but still there are many who would never acquire the required knowledge. Further more, with due condolence to the relatives of the Shaheeds of this incident, every one has to die, and if some one dies at the most sacred place on Earth with Funeral prayers at Harm, I think it would be of great soothening to the relatives. May Allah bless the departed souls. AmenRecommend

  • Shakeel Omar
    Sep 25, 2015 - 8:22AM

    Saudi government is not capable of doing any thing rightRecommend

  • adnan kamil
    Sep 29, 2015 - 10:05AM

    May AlLah Grant their soul in eternal piece and Janna AMEEN and get courage of families to bear this loss , as far saudi arabia it is not a easy task to manage 20 millions Peoples at large, let the investigation be completed Recommend

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