RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia's top religious leader said authorities are not to blame in the stampede that left hundreds of Hajj pilgrims dead because it was beyond human control, state media reported Saturday.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh told the country's crown prince "fate and destiny are inevitable." Some 769 pilgrims were killed and 934 injured in the stampede during the annual Hajj pilgrimage near the Islamic holy city of Mecca Thursday.
"You're not responsible for what happened," al-Sheikh told Interior Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. "As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable."
The stampede is considered the deadliest incident to occur during the pilgrimage in 25 years, since another stampede killed 1,400 pilgrims in Mecca. Iran and several other countries have criticized Saudi authorities for their handling of safety problems in the pilgrimage that attracts about 2 million Muslims per year.
King Salman ordered a safety review and the interior ministry assigned 100,000 police officers to secure the area and manage crowds. Tehran has demanded it and other countries be represented in the safety investigation, claiming the death toll is much higher than what has been announced, possibly as many as 2,000.
The pilgrims blame the stampede on police roadblocks and poor management of the crowds.