Saudi stampede death toll rises to 769: Health minister

Updated: 2015-09-27 09:38


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Saudi stampede death toll rises to 769: Health minister

Worshipers chant slogans during a protest against Saudi Arabia after Thursday's crush that killed 136 Iranians at the hajj pilgrimage, following Friday prayers in Tehran Sept 25, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

The death toll in a crush at the annual Hajj pilgrimage outside Mecca rose to 769, Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Saturday.

Until now, the deadly disaster has left 769 pilgrims dead and 934 wounded, the minister said at a news conference.

The accident took place amid a rush of the stoning as part of Hajj rituals. Muslim pilgrims throw stones on a wall representing devil.

The stampede has drawn fierce criticism of the Saudi authorities' handling of safety, particularly from regional rival Iran.

Earlier on Saturday, the Saudi official media reported that the kingdom's top religious leader said the stampede was beyond human control.

"You are not responsible for what happened. As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable," Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh told Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also the minister of interior, the report said.

It was the second major accident involving massive casualties this month in Saudi Arabia. Earlier in September, 111 pilgrims were killed and 331 others injured in a crane crash in the grand mosque of Mecca.

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