New tally shows at least 1,621 killed in Saudi hajj tragedy

In this Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 photo, Prince Turki al-Faisal talks to the audience during the opening day of the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The prince, who spoke to The Associated Press in an interview Sunday during a visit to Abu Dhabi, said the oversight and management of the annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage is “a matter of sovereignty” and “privilege” and will not be shared with other nations. (Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press)

The toll in the deadliest tragedy to ever strike the annual hajj pilgrimage rose Wednesday to at least 1,621 people killed, a new tally showed, as hundreds still reportedly remain missing.

The Associated Press count is more than double Saudi Arabia’s official tally of 769 killed and 934 injured in the Sept. 24 disaster in Mina, a few miles from the holy city of Mecca. Saudi officials have not updated their tally since Sept. 26.

Officials in the Saudi health and interior ministries have not responded to recent AP requests for comment. On Sunday, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal rejected the idea of sharing the administration of the hajj with other Muslim nations, raised by regional rival Iran, saying Riyadh considers it both “a matter of sovereignty” and a “privilege.”

The AP figure comes from state media reports and officials’ comments from 19 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the five-day annual pilgrimage.

Iran says it had 465 pilgrims killed, while Egypt lost 182, Nigeria 168 and Indonesia 126.

Others include India with 114, Pakistan with 100, Bangladesh with 92, Mali with 70, Senegal with 54, Benin with 51, Cameroon with 42, Morocco with 33, Ethiopia with 31, Sudan with 30, Algeria with 25, Ghana with 12, Chad with 11, Kenya with eight and Turkey with seven.

A Saudi human rights activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said he believed the government was nervous over the sharp criticism it has faced.

“The way I see it is success goes to those in authority, and mistakes go to God’s will,” the activist said.



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