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Saudi Arabia orders probe into deadly Hajj stampede

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Saudi Arabia orders probe into deadly Hajj stampede
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Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince ordered an investigation into the stampede at the hajj pilgrimage that left more than 700 dead on Thursday, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who chairs the Saudi hajj committee, ordered the probe during a meeting 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 agency added.

Thursday’s tragedy comes on the heels of another one, in which 108 people were killed when a massive construction crane collapsed on Mecca’s Grand Mosque on September 11 as thousands were gathering for the hajj.

At the time, Prince Nayef said that the accident would not affect this year’s pilgrimage and that the safety of pilgrims was a “priority”.

Meanwhile, Iran accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors after at least 43 of its citizens died on Thursday in a stampede that killed several hundred pilgrims during the annual Haj ceremonies.

After saying the kingdom was responsible for the tragedy, deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Saudi’s envoy to Tehran would be summoned to the foreign ministry.

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.

The names of all Iranians killed in the stampede were read out in a sombre live broadcast in Tehran by a spokesman for the Haj organisation.

Saudi’s civil defence service has said at least 717 people were killed and 805 hurt.

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