Prince Khaled al-Faisal, the head of Saudi Arabia’s central Hajj committee has put the blame of the stampede outside the city of Mecca on ‘some pilgrims with African nationalities’. This was reported by Saudi Arabia-owned Al-Arabiya TV news channel, International Business Times and other media agencies. At least 717 people have been killed in the crush while over 850 injured. It is feared that many Nigerians were crushed to death in the stampede. Pilgrims from several nations have died in the stampede, which happened when two groups of pilgrims arrived at a junction on Street 204 at the tent city of Mina for a traditional stone-throwing ritual.
The controversial remarks of Prince Khaled were also repeated by the Saudi health minister, Khaled al-Falih, who was quoted by El-Ekhbariya television saying: “many pilgrims move without respecting the timetables [set by authorities, which was the] principal reason for this type of accident. If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided.”
“Today’s incident shows mismanagement and lack of serious attention to the safety of pilgrims. There is no other explanation. The Saudi officials should be held accountable.”