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Mecca stampede death toll could rise, Saudi King orders review

Updated: 2015-09-25 07:48

Mecca stampede death toll could rise, Saudi King orders review

Members of Saudi civil defense try to rescue pilgrims following a crush caused by large numbers of people pushing at Mina, outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca in this handout picture published on Twitter account of the Directorate of the Saudi Civil Defense September 24, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia said the death toll in Thursday's stampede in Mina, neighboring the holy city of Mecca, is expected to rise, Al Arabiya local news channel reported.

Earlier reports said 717 pilgrims died and 863 injured during a major Hajj ritual of throwing pebbles at one of the three walls representing Satan, the symbolic "stoning of the devil."

The Saudi Interior Ministry told a press conference that the incident was dealt with plans, but the procedures to deal with the performing of this ritual will be reviewed to overcome such mishaps in the coming years.

The authority said the incident was initially triggered by the pilgrims moving in opposite directions. "We will be investigating the incident as it happened in a narrow road that isn't usually used by pilgrims, as it is closed to the camping areas in Mina," a spokesperson said, adding that the high temperature may also be an additional reason.

The Saudi King Salman, speaking in a live speech broadcast by Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television,  said he had ordered a review of the kingdom's plans for the annual hajj pilgrimage and had asked for a swift investigation into what he described as a painful incident.

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz has also ordered a thorough investigation. He promised that the actual reasons will be announced shortly.

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