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Tuesday, September 29

Hajj disaster widens; anger that death toll seems much higher than Saudis said

Hajj disaster: Foreign officials question Saudi death toll
BBC
September 29, 2015

Officials from several countries have said that more than 1,000 people died in last week's stampede near Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The last figure given by the Saudi authorities was 769.

However, a Nigerian official told the BBC that more than 1,000 bodies had been taken from the disaster site to morgues in the city of Jeddah.

Indian, Pakistani and Indonesian officials have also been quoted as saying they think more than 1,000 died.

A Nigerian Hajj official from Kano told the BBC's Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai that he had been to Jeddah, where the dead from Thursday's crush are being processed.

The official said that in total, 14 trucks loaded with bodies were brought to the city.

He added that so far 1,075 bodies had been offloaded from 10 trucks and taken into the morgues. Four trucks had yet to be dealt with, he said.

Several countries have been severely critical of the way the Saudi authorities have handled the accident's aftermath, notably Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, which lost more than 140 people in the disaster.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that Saudi authorities had released photos of 1,090 pilgrims who died. Pakistani and Indonesian officials have also indicated that they have been sent more than 1,000 such images.

As yet the Saudi authorities have not explained the discrepancy in the figures.

Thursday's stampede was the deadliest incident to hit the Hajj in 25 years.

[...]

[END REPORT]

BUT Saudi gov. can explain the photos:

Saudi Arabia's police say 1,100 photos of dead given to diplomats not limited to hajj disaster
Associated Press 

MECCA, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry says the nearly 1,100 photos distributed to foreign diplomats to help identify nationals who've died in the hajj are from the entire pilgrimage and not just a disaster near Mecca.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press Tuesday the pictures given to diplomats also include people who died of natural causes. Others are from the 111 people who died when a crane crashed into Mecca's Grand Mosque on Sept. 11.

Saudi authorities say the death toll from the crush of pilgrims in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, is still 769 people.


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