Saudi Arabia orders probe into deadly Hajj stampede

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has ordered an investigation after a stampede at the annual Hajj pilgrimage left at least 717 people dead and 863 injured, according to state media.

Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, who chairs the Saudi Hajj committee, ordered the probe during a meeting on Thursday with senior officials responsible for the pilgrimage in Mina, where the stampede took place.

The findings of the investigation will be submitted to King Salman, “who will take appropriate measures” in response, the Saudi Press agency said.

The Saudi Arabian interior ministry says the crush of Muslim pilgrims appears to have been caused by two waves of pilgrims meeting at an intersection.

Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki said high temperatures and fatigue might also have been factors in the disaster, the deadliest event to afflict the Hajj pilgrimage in more than two decades.

However, the head of Iran’s Hajj organisation, Said Ohadi, said that, for “unknown reasons,” two paths had been closed off near the site of a symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the stampede occurred.

“This caused this tragic incident,” he said on state television, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Ohadi said the path closures had left only three routes to the area where the stoning ceremony was held.

Mina houses more than 160,000 tents where people spend the night during the pilgrimage.

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