Iran and Saudi Arabia have been stepping up their war of words over last Thursday’s stampede, with Riyadh accusing Tehran of politicizing the tragedy and Tehran demanding an apology from Saudi Arabia, which it says mismanaged the Hajj. Interior Ministry spokesperson Major General Mansour Turki said police do not close the main pilgrimage routes and no vehicles had passed in areas near the crush any time after early Thursday morning.
But even before the hajj began, disaster struck Mecca as a tower construction crane crashed into the Grand Mosque on September 11, killing at least 111 people. Civil defense officials could not be immediately reached.
There was no comment from Iranian officials.
Saudi authorities said a total of 769 pilgrims died in the incident.
A resolution was submitted in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday, demanding that a protest be lodged with the Saudi government over the slow-paced efforts to deliver information regarding casualties in the Mina incident.
“The Saudi obstinacy, playing a] blame game and shirking its heavy responsibility for the death of several thousand pilgrims of the House of God will further tarnish Saudi Arabia’s image in the world“, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, said on Tuesday.
Iran has led a chorus of global criticism directed at Saudi Arabia’s response to the incident, saying its diplomats were not given access to victims until days after the stampede.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court meanwhile said it received a citizen’s petition asking it to open an investigation into the hajj disaster. So far, no hearing has been set.
The Executive Secretary of the board, Alhaji Aliyu Suleman, who disclosed this yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen in Bauchi, said officials of the board had visited hospitals in Mina and Mecca to search for the missing pilgrims in their mortuaries and hospital beds. However, other hajis insisted the fault lay with the security people who had locked two crucial gates during the rush hour of the pilgrimage.
He also urged the remaining pilgrims in the holy land waiting to be airlifted back home to stay indoors and avoid moving about to prevent heat stroke and other ailments associated with excessive heat and to take much water, use umbrella and eat good food to stay healthy.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.