Hajj stampede: Saudi officials clarify toll after questions
Radio New Zealand International
September 29, 2015 6:12 pm
Saudi officials have denied reports that more than 1,000 people were killed in a stampede near Mecca last week while undertaking the Hajj pilgrimage.
A Nigerian official told the BBC the bodies of 1,075 victims had been taken to mortuaries in the city of Jeddah – higher than the official toll of 769.
Other countries also said they had been sent the photos of some 1,090 bodies.
But the Saudi officials said the photos included unidentified people who died at the Hajj – not just in the stampede.
Spokesman Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki told the Associated Press that some were foreign nationals who lived in Saudi Arabia and carried out the Hajj without the required permits.
Others were among the 109 people who were killed when a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on 11 September, he said.
Confusion about how many people died in last week’s stampede mounted after Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Sunday that the Saudi authorities had released photos of 1,090 pilgrims who died.
Pakistani and Indonesian officials also indicated that they have been sent more than 1,000 such images.
On Tuesday, a Nigerian Hajj official from Kano, Abba Yakubu, told the BBC’s Yusuf Ibrahim Yakasai that he had been to Jeddah, where the dead from the stampede were being processed.