DFAT advised people who were concerned for the welfare of family and friends in Mecca to first try to contact their loved ones directly. “You go forward and suddenly you go back”.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT] said the Australian embassy in Riyadh was in close contact with Saudi authorities following the crush that occurred about 9am on Thursday, local time, as millions of Muslims were making their pilgrimage, or Haj, to the city of Mecca.
The United States has expressed its “deepest condolences” over the hundreds of Muslim pilgrims who died in a “heartbreaking stampede” outside Mecca during the annual hajj.
Saudi authorities began an investigation, said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj.
On Wednesday, Khamenei had said Saudi Arabia bore a duty to protect all pilgrims.
But four survivors questioned how officials managing the flow of people could allow two big crowds going in different directions to intersect on two streets packed with pilgrims.
July 1987: Iranian protesters clash with Saudi police, leading to the death of more than 400.
At least 863 pilgrims were injured in the crush, said the Saudi civil defense directorate, which provided the death toll.
Sirens wailed as ambulances conveyed corpses and injured persons to hospitals, while hundreds of Saudi security forces and hajj volunteers were on hand helping the victims.
December 1975: A gas cylinder explodes in the pilgrim tent city, causing a fire that kills more than 200. “They were stacked high”, Awad said.
Amateur video and pictures shared on social media showed a horrific scene with scores of bodies – the men dressed in the simple terry cloth garments worn during hajj – lying amid crushed wheelchairs and water bottles. It is something they must do at least once in their lives.
About two million Muslims are taking part in this year’s Haj pilgrimage, which began on Tuesday.
Thursday’s crush happened in Mina, a large valley about five kilometers (three miles) from Mecca that has been the site of hajj stampedes in years past.
May 1994: A stampede near Jamarat Bridge in Mina, near Mecca, kills 270 in the area where pilgrims ritually stone the devil.
The multi-story structure, known as Jamarat Bridge, is created to ease the pressure of the crowds and prevent pilgrims from being trampled. Behind the gates are the tents of hajj tour groups, organized by nationality.
“Today’s incident shows mismanagement and lack of serious attention to the safety of pilgrims”.
Meanwhile, a woman pilgrim from Hyderabad identified as Bi Bi Jaan, was also killed in the stampede, S A Shukoor, special officer of Telangana State Haj Committee said.
It was the second major accident during this year’s hajj season.
“The reputation of the kingdom is on the line”, said Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics.
“We can in no way be indifferent to this irresponsible behavir of Saudi Arabia“. “The poorer people come to buy from here because in the other district the shops are more sophisticated and for people who have more money”. “Each part of the hajj affects the other”.
The mood in Mina was somber, however, and many were stunned by the tragedy instead of jubilant at completing the pilgrimage.
“It was bad, it was really, really awful”, he said.
According to Iran’s state IRIB TV, at least 89 Iranian pilgrims were killed and 60 were injured in the incident. It says at least 719 other pilgrims were injured in the stampede.
Thursday’s disaster was the deadliest such incident on the annual hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades, and comes almost two weeks after a crane collapsed in Mecca, killing 100 people.