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    Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015

    Photos Suggest Death Toll in Hajj Stampede Much Higher Than Reported

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    Authorities in India and Pakistan say Riyadh’s release of more than 1,000 images of those killed in last week’s deadly stampede of Hajj pilgrims in Mina suggests Saudi officials have offered an incomplete picture of the tragedy’s death toll.

    Saudi officials have not commented on the discrepancy between the 769 people the Saudi Ministry of Health reported killed in the stampede at the annual Haj pilgrimage in Mina, near Mecca, and photos of the dead reportedly received by a Pakistani official.

    Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, MP from Pakistan's governing PML-N party said during a news conference broadcast nationwide on Monday that diplomats had been given "1,100 photos" of the dead by Saudi authorities.

    "This is the official figure of martyrs from Saudi officials given for the identification process," Chaudhry said.

    Chaudhry, responsible for Pakistan's response to the disaster, stated that these pictures could be viewed at Saudi embassies and missions abroad.

    His statements  aligned with the recent remarks of Sushma Swaraj, Indian minister of External Affairs, who tweeted that 1090 photos of those killed in the Haj stampede were released by Saudi officials.

    Indian officials refused to comment on Swaraj's tweet.

    Thursday's stampede in Mina, near Mecca, marred the annual event as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered to celebrate the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha.

    Saudi Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih said that the tragedy was caused by the pilgrims' behavior, as many of them ignored organizers' directives when heading to perform the "stoning-of-the-devil" ritual.

    The Saudi embassy in Tehran has been the site of protests, with Iranian activists slamming the Saudi government for the disaster.

    Pilgrims from a total of 18 countries, including over 130 Iranian citizens, died at the gathering, long noted as dangerous because of the size of crowds that often create bottlenecks around the holy site.


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    Hajj, pilgrims, stampede, photo, Muslims, Khalid Al-Falih, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan
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