Saudi Arabian authorities blamed for Hajj stampede that killed at least 717 pilgrims

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Saudi Arabia authorities were blamed for the Thursday stampede in Mina, near Mecca, that killed at least 717 pilgrims and injured 863, according to the BBC.

The stampede happened at 9:00 a.m. in the city of Mina, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Mecca, which houses more than 160,000 tents where pilgrims spend the night during the pilgrimage.

Two million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj's last major rite, with temperatures around 46C.

According to Al Arabiya, the stampede did not happen inside the area where pilgrims throw stones at pillars that represent the devil, but at the entrance of the Jamarat bridge near Street 204 when two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other at right angles at an intersection. Reuters said it was caused by large numbers of people pushing, and Saudi officials blamed pilgrims for misbehaving.

Nigeria however dismissed remarks by the Saudi health minister accusing pilgrims of "not following instructions.”

Iran, who reported the greatest number of deaths among foreign nationals, accused the Saudis of incompetence.

About 100,000 police were deployed to secure the Hajj, but according to the Guardian witnesses said they were inexperienced and not properly trained.

Stampedes during the hajj are not unusual, but this accident was the deadliest disaster since at Mina since 1990, when 1,426 pilgrims were killed in a stampede.


RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Location of the stampede on a map
2. Pilgrims taking part in the “stoning of the devil” rite
3. The area where the stoning pillars are
4. The entrance of the Jamarat bridge near Street 204
5. Pilgrims pushing and a stampede occurring
6. Rescue workers and ambulances

VOICEOVER (in English):
“The stampede happened at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday as 2 million pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj's last major rite at the Jamarat bridge, with temperatures around 46C.”

“Almost a kilometre long, the Jamarat bridge allows 300,000 pilgrims an hour to carry out the ‘stoning of the devil,’ in which they have to throw pebbles against walls.”

“The incident happened at the entrance of the bridge near Street 204, when two massive lines of pilgrims converged on each other at right angles at an intersection.”

“Iran, who reported the greatest number of deaths among foreign nationals, accused the Saudis of incompetence.”

“Saudi Arabia said it deployed 100,000 police to secure the Hajj, but witnesses said police closed all entrances and exits to pilgrims’ camp except for one and were inexperienced and not properly trained.”



SOURCES: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34357383