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Saudi hajj death toll rises to a record 1,453


Mourners at a funeral ceremony attended by thousands in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

Mourners at a funeral ceremony attended by thousands in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

Mourners at a funeral ceremony attended by thousands in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

The crush and stampede at the hajj in Saudi Arabia last month was the deadliest event ever to strike the annual pilgrimage, according to a new tally.

The Associated Press count shows at least 1,453 people died on September 24 in Mina near the holy city of Mecca.

That figure comes from statements and officials' comments from 19 of the 180-plus countries that had citizens at the five-day annual pilgrimage.

Saudi officials have said their official figure of 769 killed and 934 injured in the disaster remains accurate. Their investigation is continuing.

The previous deadliest incident happened in 1990 when a stampede killed 1,426 people.

In this year's disaster, Iran says it had 465 pilgrims killed, while Egypt lost 148 and Indonesia 120.

Others include India with 101, Nigeria with 99, Pakistan with 93, Mali with 70, Bangladesh with 63, Senegal with 54, Benin with 51, Cameroon with 42, Ethiopia with 31, Sudan with 30, Morocco with 27, Algeria with 25, Ghana with 12, Chad with 11, Kenya with eight and Turkey with three.

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Saudi authorities have not updated their casualty toll since September 26, two days after the disaster.

Shiite power Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia's Middle East rival, has blamed the disaster on the kingdom's "mismanagement" and accused Riyadh of a cover-up, saying the real death toll exceeds 4,700, without providing evidence to support the claim.

Tehran has called for an independent body to take over planning and administering the five-day hajj pilgrimage, required of all able Muslims once in their lifetimes. But the ruling Al Saud family is unlikely to give up its role in administering the holy sites, which along with Saudi Arabia's oil wealth gives it major influence in the Muslim world. King Salman himself is known as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

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