He however insisted that those missing can not be declared dead, since identification of those affected were still being collated by the Saudi Arabia health authorities in conjunction with Nigerian and other health officials.
The AP count is 701 higher than Saudi Arabia’s official tally of 769 killed and 934 injured in the September 24 disaster in Mina, a few miles from the holy city of Mecca.
New numbers on last month’s deadly stampede near Mecca have revealed that the casualties, which were put at 769 by the Saudi government, are actually closer to 1,470.
A senior Saudi religious leader on Friday denounced “lies” being spread about the kingdom after more than 1,350 people died in tragedies that struck this year’s pilgrimage. That figure comes from statements and officials’ comments from 19 of the over 180 countries that sent citizens to the five-day annual pilgrimage. Their investigation is ongoing. Iran said it had 465 pilgrims killed, while Egypt lost 148 and Indonesia 120.
Also tarnishing Saudi’s image was a September 11 crane crash that killed 111 people worshiping at Mecca’s Grand Mosque. “Transparency is the most powerful card that they have”, he said.
“It is not the right of anyone or any entity to use these events to blame or spread rumours against the great efforts exerted by the kingdom”, Sudais said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Iran has blamed the disaster on Saudi Arabia’s “mismanagement” and accused the kingdom of a cover-up, claiming the real death toll is over 4,700, without providing any evidence for this assertion.
Experts say there’s no way that will happen. “The Saudis are not for a nanosecond going to entertain any proposals to share management of the hajj with other states”, Sabra said. But the ruling Al Saud family likely would never give up its role in administering the holy sites, which along with Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth gives it major influence in the Muslim world.