Saudi Arabia: Hajj stampede death toll rises to 769

MAKKAH, Saudi Arabia (AA) – The number of pilgrims killed during the Hajj stampede in Mina has risen to 769, Saudi authorities said on Saturday, confirming the incident as the worst Hajj disaster in last 25 years.
The stampede occurred near an intersection of two streets in Mina, around 5 kilometers (3 miles) east of Islam’s holy city of Makkah on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Saudi Health Minister Khalid bin Abdul-Aziz al-Falih said that 934 pilgrims were also injured in the incident.
Al-Falih said that Saud Arabia responded to the incident with all its health and civil defense teams, adding that around 25,000 health workers served the estimated 2 million pilgrims this year.
He said that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had ordered a full investigation into the incident, the results of which would be shared with the media.
Earlier, the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs said that 753 people were killed in the stampede and 887 others were injured.
– Two Turkish pilgrims die in stampede
Although four Turkish pilgrims in total died in Makkah during Hajj, only two of them were killed in the Mina stampede, a senior Turkish official said Saturday.
Previously, Turkish Hajj administrative center officials had said that all four Turkish pilgrims died in the stampede. However, Enver Gunenc, head of Hajj and Umrah Services General Directorate, corrected the death toll in the stampede as two Turkish pilgrims.
“The two other Turkish pilgrims were not killed in the stampede,” Gunenc clarified.
One of these two died of a heart attack during the Hajj ritual to “stone the devil”, while the other died at his hotel before the ritual on the same day, he said.
He added that six Turkish pilgrims were still missing and eight others were being treated for their wounds.
This week’s stampede disaster came two weeks after 107 people were killed by a crane collapse at Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
The Hajj pilgrimage to the city of Makkah is one of the five pillars of Islam.

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