The Ministry of Religious Endowments has announced that number of Egyptian deaths in the Mina stampede accident has risen to 74, with the ministry also defending Saudi Arabia from criticism.
Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, who also heads the Egyptian Hajj mission, revealed that the previously announced number of 120 pilgrims missing had decreased to 98.
The ministry announced on Saturday the names of 26 Egyptians injured in the stampede, which occurred at the end of the Hajj pilgrimage in Mina. The stampede resulted in the deaths of a total of 769 pilgrims, according to Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry.
Gomaa’s latest statement revealed a final report on the dead and missing will be submitted on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered a ministerial reshuffle following the deadly incident, with officials blaming the catastrophe on pilgrims “who didn’t follow the instructions”. A committee was formed to investigate the incident, and results will be announced as soon as the investigation comes to an end, according to Saudi officials.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, demanded an apology from Saudi Arabia regarding the incident. Iran had previously blamed a convoy belonging to a Saudi prince for triggering the panic that led to the stampede.
However, Egypt’s leading religious institution Al-Azhar defended Saudi Arabia against criticism, with Al-Azhar Undersecretary Abbas Shuman telling London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that Al-Azhar refutes “hasty accusations” of negligence.
This year’s Hajj had also witnessed the deaths of 107 pilgrims and the injury of 238 others, after a construction crane collapsed, landing partially on the Grand Mosque during a violent rainstorm.