Saudi crown prince orders probe into deadly haj stampede

Saudi emergency personnel and Hajj pilgrims stand near bodies covered in sheets in Mina on Sept 24, 2015.
Saudi emergency personnel and Hajj pilgrims stand near bodies covered in sheets in Mina on Sept 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MINA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) - 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 haj 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 haj.

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

Earlier Thursday, Health Minister Khaled al-Faleh promised that there would be a rapid and transparent investigation of the stampede, which he blamed on undisciplined pilgrims not following instructions.