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Hajj Stampede: Saudis Say Death Toll Up to 769 as Iran Calls for Investigation

At least another 934 people were wounded from Thursday's tragedy, when people were trampled in the crush of bodies at the annual pilgrimage.
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/ Source: Reuters

The death toll in a crush outside the holy city of Mecca on Thursday has risen to 769, Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Saturday.

"The latest statistics up to this hour reveal 769 dead. That is an increase of 52 on the previous figures," Falih told a news conference. "Those are the ones who died in various hospitals since the event," he said, adding that 934 people were wounded.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani used a major United Nations speech on Saturday to demand an investigation into the crush at the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

The fact that Rouhani used a U.N. summit meeting on global development goals to reiterate Iran's outrage over the hajj tragedy was a sign that Tehran does not intend to tone down criticism of its regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Both Iran and the Saudis see themselves as leaders in the Muslim world.

In his speech to the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly, Rouhani emphasized the need for an investigation into "the causes of this incident and other similar incidents in this year's hajj." He describe the crush as "heart-rending."

Related: Somber Pilgrims Continue Hajj After Stampede 'Catastrophe'

Speaking to reporters before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif repeated that "we need to address the disastrous event in Saudi Arabia."

Saudi Arabia on Friday suggested pilgrims ignoring crowd control rules bore some blame for the incident. Saudi King Salman ordered a review of haj plans, and Health Minister Khalid al-Falih said an investigation would be conducted.

Iran has repeatedly expressed outrage at the deaths of 131 of its nationals at the world's largest annual gathering of people.

Rouhani suggested on Friday the tragedy may be a result of the Saudis transferring experienced troops to Yemen to fight Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a military campaign that Tehran has repeatedly criticized.