Tens of Iranian pilgrims are reportedly still missing following a deadly crush during Hajj rituals near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Press TV reports.
The incident occurred on Thursday in Mina, near Mecca, after huge pilgrim processions were joined in their course, leading to the catastrophic entanglement.
It has been reported that the convoy of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, had arrived at the site, forcing the pilgrims to change their original directions.
Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization says the tragic incident claimed the lives of more than 1,300 people, including 131 Iranians. Saudi officials, however, put the death toll at 717.
Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, released the Iranian death toll on Thursday night, adding that the number of the fatalities could rise.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses have said that injured pilgrims are not receiving adequate medical care in Saudi hospitals and medical centers.
An Iranian survivor, meanwhile, told Press TV that Saudi officials had been slow in responding to the emergency situation.
“It took the rescue workers two hours or more to arrive at the scene,” he said, adding, “The rescue workers, who were just a few, started collecting dead bodies instead of taking care of the injured.”
Saudi competence questioned
The crush and a number of other recent deadly incidents have reignited the debate about Riyadh’s competence to manage the annual Islamic pilgrimage.
On September 11, a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque of Mecca, killing over 100 people. Hundreds of people were also injured. According to the figures released by Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, 11 Iranian pilgrims were among the deceased and 32 of the injured were also Iranian nationals.
Separately, a fire at a 15-story hotel in Mecca forced some 1,500 people to leave the place on Monday. A fire at another hotel in the city had likewise forced mass evacuations last Thursday.
By Press TV