Meanwhile, Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih said the stampede “was perhaps because a few pilgrims moved without following instructions by the relevant authorities”.
Iran’s Culture Minister Ali Jannati plans to head a delegation to Saudi Arabia to follow up on 316 Iranians that Tehran says are missing, but state news agency IRNA said his team still has not received visas. His foreign minister, Mohammad Zarif, also deplored “the disastrous event in Saudi Arabia” during his separate talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in another part of New York.
“The report said the presence of the prince in the middle of the population prompted a change in the direction of the movement of the pilgrims and a stampede“, Iran-owned Press TV said.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said: “I ask the Saudi Arabian government to take the responsibility of this catastrophe and fulfil its legal and Islamic duties in this regard”.
In Tehran, protesters described by Iranian state television as angry about “Saudi incapability and incompetence to run the hajj“, chanted “Death to the Saudi dynasty”.
The pilgrims suffocated or were trampled to death Thursday when two massive crowds converged on a narrow street, in the worst disaster to occur during the annual pilgrimage in a quarter-century.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s position as spearhead of Sunni Islam in a clash with Shiite Islam, led by Iran, complicates its religious role.
Pilgrims at the scene in Mina faulted Saudi authorities and a few said they were afraid to carry on with the Hajj rituals. Muslim pilgrims throw stones on a wall representing devil. In one of the final steps of the hajj, pilgrims throw stones at three large pillars in a symbolic casting away of evil.
The current death toll of the Mecca Hajj Stampede is 717, with 863 people believed to be injured and the numbers climbing steadily. “Of course, the circumstances are special and urgent, but we expect more serious commitment”, he added, without spelling out exactly how he felt Riyadh was falling short.
It was the second disaster to strike in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 109 people.