Stampede: Pilgrims May Have Ignored Instructions, says Saudi minister

Saudi Arabia’s health minister said a crush that killed more than 700 people at the Hajj pilgrimage may have been caused by pilgrims’ failing to follow instructions from authorities.

In a statement posted on the ministry’s website on Friday, the minister, Khalid al-Falih, said an investigation would be conducted rapidly into the worst disaster to strike the annual Hajj pilgrimage for 25 years.

At least 863 others were injured during the stampede at the Hajj, the world’s largest annual gathering of people.

“The investigations into the incident of the stampede that took place today in Mina, which was perhaps because some pilgrims moved without following instructions by the relevant authorities, will be fast and will be announced as has happened in other incidents,” the statement said.

Falih said the injured were being transferred to hospitals in Mecca and if necessary on to other parts of the country.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud said he had ordered a review of the Hajj plans after the disaster, in which two large groups of pilgrims collided with each other at a crossroad in Mina, a few kilometres east of Mecca, on their way to performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual at Jamarat.

The findings of the investigation will be submitted to King Salman, “who will take appropriate measures” in response, the Saudi Press agency said.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said the crush of pilgrims appeared to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.

Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and fatigue may also have been factors in the disaster.
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