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Hajj stampede toll raised to 1,453

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A fresh tally of casualties killed in a stampede near Mecca last month has raised the death toll to 1,453, making this year’s incident the deadliest recorded during the hajj.

The figure, compiled by the Associated Press, was gathered from officials and statements by 19 countries whose citizens were declared dead at the pilgrimage.

The figure is substantially higher than official Saudi figures. The kingdom’s government had placed the death toll at 769 during the stampede near Mina, a religious site outside the holy city, where religious rites are conducted as part of the pilgrimage.

The incident sparked a diplomatic row. Iran, which announced that 465 of its nationals were killed, blamed its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, for failing to protect worshippers at Islam’s holiest sites and condemned its leadership.

The second-highest death toll was of Egyptians at 148, followed by Indonesians at 120, according to AP’s figures.

It is unclear why there is such a great disparity between the AP toll and that of the Saudi government, which said it was investigating the cause of the stampede.

The deadly incident came only 12 days after the collapse of a crane at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, in which more than 100 people were killed.

During the hajj, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims in Mina conduct a stoning ritual, where pillars representing the devil are pelted with pebbles to symbolise the rejection of sin. Pilgrims have often been killed or injured amid the crush of worshippers over the years in Mina, but the scale of this year’s tragedy dwarfs those of previous years.

If AP’s figures are accurate, the Mina stampede would be the single deadliest recorded incident in the hajj. The worst incident recorded until this year was in 1990 when 1,426 people died in a stampede in a tunnel leading out of Mecca. The Guardian

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