Saudi Arabia: Death Toll Stands At 717: Probe Launched Into Mina Crush
By Arab News
Saudi Arabia’s Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman offered condolences to the families and relatives of those killed in Thursday’s Mina stampede that left 717 Hajis dead and 805 injured.
He reiterated his resolve to continue measures to make Haj comfortable and secure.
He said regardless of whatever is the result of the probe, the massive development plans undertaken to upgrade Haj services will continue without any break.
He said he had instructed the authorities concerned to review the current plans and arrangements and exert more efforts to ensure better management of pilgrims’ movement.
The king vowed that all obstacles and difficulties would be removed to enable the guests of God to perform their rituals with ease and comfort.
He said Mina incident was painful and a probe had been launched but that did not mean “we should undermine the magnificent work the security personnel and those deployed on Haj duties have been doing to serve the pilgrims so that they could perform their rituals with ease and comfort.”
He congratulated citizens and pilgrims on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha and prayed to Allah to bestow His blessings on the Muslim Ummah.
Earlier, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif ordered the formation of an investigation committee to determine the causes of the stampede. Its findings would be submitted to King Salman.
He held a meeting with top Haj security officials following the incident to discuss ways to deal with the issue, according to Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, Interior Ministry spokesman.
About the study on the Mina area and roads leading to Jamrat, he said that was the nature of the site, which is not changeable because it has specific borders.
The crown prince said these borderlines are part of Haj rituals and congestion and narrow roads cannot be redressed simply based on someone’s imagination.
He said security authorities have seriously considered the issue of overcrowding which happens due to the high density of pilgrims on roads leading from Mina to Jamrat, adding that the street where the incident occurred was an internal street in Mina, and not the one leading to Muzdalifa.
He stressed that the Kingdom will not hesitate to address the reasons for the stampede whatever the cost may be, adding that the country is keen to provide all possible means to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims to help them perform their rituals safely and easily.
Maj. Gen. Al-Turki said the incident occurred as a result of pilgrims’ movement toward the Street 204 intersecting with the Street 223.
He said high temperatures and fatigue due to pilgrims’ stay at Arafat could also be other factors.
He said security bodies dealt with the incident immediately and began to rescue those who had fallen in the crush.