Saudi authorities say that the death toll from the Hajj stampede has risen to 717. Iran has blamed Saudi Arabia for a lack of safety measures during a ritual involving Muslim pilgrims pelting stones at a symbolic devil.
The deaths during the Hajj stampede, one of the worst accidents over the years at the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, are likely to increase further, as Saudi officials put the blame on "undisciplined pilgrims" who had "not followed instructions." The authorities said the safety measures at Mina, where Hajjis (pilgrims) throw pebbles at a depiction of the devil as part of Islamic tradition, were foolproof.
"Many pilgrims move without respecting the timetables," which was the "principal reason for this type of accident," Health Minister Khaled al-Falih was quoted by El-Ekhbariya television as saying on Thursday.
"If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided," he added.
Ambulances rushed to the scene to transport the wounded to hospitals. The number of injured people is also in hundreds.