Talk:Mina Hajj Tragedy, September 24, 2015

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Iran: 464 Dead

No time to update front page ATM but ... For the record, I was almost able to finish my blog article in time to publicly predict this ... but not quite. From the draft post, what I just put together, on Iran's dead vs. missing tolls:

"Missing" was 344, now its 241. decrease: 103. In the same span, confirmed deaths rose from 136 to 239 - increase: 103. Pattern so far: the "missing" are all dead. Implication: perhaps exactly 480 Iranians were killed.

I'd guess a bit lower but close. AFP now reports (Times of Israel posting seems most popular) Iran now considers 464 of their citizens to have died, including former ambassador Roknabadi. Did KSA just manage to not locate half the bodies? They still insist on a number too low to include all these. Or is Iran lying? It gets more popcorn worthy every day. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:32, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

How This Can Happen

Depends on what happened. Looking at the video scene, I can hardly imagine 7-800 at least dying from trampling. But it sounds more like most died of suffocation, untreated injures following burial, dehydration, etc. I'm an American but I cited the 46 degrees celcius figure that was reported, and I know what it means. My reference is "the Western Desert lives and breathes in 45 degrees." That means 46 is pretty darn hot (not record-shattering though by the math I did once) The other problem is how and why the crowd had to push so much for so long, without any reversal or slow-down managed, no alternate exit arranged, etc. People already having a hard time breathing, in a swamp of no-wind-chill heat plus human body heat, not thinking straight to start and then panicking from the unstoppable crush - that might help explain that deadly pressure becoming so unstoppable. --Caustic Logic (talk) 07:02, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

I don't know, have to check this out. Interesting topic. I have HUGE respect for what out of control masses of humans can do, not least because of having been at the Love Parade in Duisburg 2010, and if it weren't for a friend that overslept, would have been in the middle of the panic that caused (comparably tiny) 21 dead and 541 injured. --CE (talk) 07:09, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
I also know from personal experience that the Saudis looked for German infrastructure experts to combat these panics with better planning in the early millenium. I told one of those experts about the ritual they do running around the Ka'aba and he assessed that it was hopeless to do anything about it and wouldn't get anywhere near the job. So, also from intuition, I don't see how they can reasonably be accused of causing this intentionally, also given that their role as protector of the Islamic rituals is one of their very few "positives" in the minds of the region. --CE (talk) 07:27, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
Ok, read up. The video has hardly 700 persons in it, and even your composite shows the right end of the mass. No dead seen there. This is not the scene of a mass panic with 700 dead. They would destroy the fence in a second if there were those forces involved.
Apparently the "intentional" part of the accusation was only between the lines, or maybe in some text of "Islamic Invitation Turkey" which is a site of Turkish (not Lebanese) Hizbullah and should be taken with a huge grain of salt. --CE (talk) 08:02, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
45 decrees in a crowd could be lethal. Just study how emperor penguin stay alive over winter on an Antarctic ice pack. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:53, 27 September 2015 (UTC)
I'm not convinced this is the scene either, but it's the only thing anyone shows. How many more are to the left is unclear, but I think a few thousand total is reasonable. I think the panorama shows/represents around 900 people (kids and short people are in there, etc.) Intentional massacre, no but maybe intentionally insensitive / inept management, like they say herding people around to make room for a prince, with the confinement maybe aggravated by anti-Shia or anti-whoever biases - some perfect storm of bad habits of an unaccountable, corrupt, senile and decrepit 300-year-old monarchy. An outside thought; maybe a few key assassinations by suffocation or trampling could also be laundered in, and maybe having a launder pile like that to work with was a motive for some kind of stampede that maybe got out of hand. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:12, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

Seems some cross-posting occured. ;o) I find the allegation of the survivors interviewed by PressTV quite plausible, that for several hours no real help arrived and people who were well alive died in the heat because of that (maybe more than in the immediate incident itself). It was remarkable how the reported dead figures kept rising and rising. --CE (talk) 11:23, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Can it Even Be Like the Saudis Say?

I don't think so. Okay, here's the scene:

Mina Corrall Panoramic.png

And a secret Iranian source supposedly admits this: "...a group of around 300 Iranian pilgrims failed to follow orders requiring them to wait for clearance to leave Jamarat—the site where pilgrims perform the “stoning the devil” ritual. Instead, the group went back to their mission’s headquarters as other groups were on their way to the site as scheduled, according to the official. “The group stopped for a while..." Then the other group crashed into them and the stampede ensued. It would help if we could know which way is in and which way is out. But seeing the wall ending the area off to the right, those arriving can't come that way. So people arrive from the left/north, probably everyone the same way, including the 300 Iranians. There's no "out" here, with that wall. The side gate isn't opened until later.

So ... what were they leaving from too early? Why would they turn back, or just "stop for a while," when it can't be any further than that wall? Is it just that wall and that closed gate that left them no other direction to go but back or nowhere? What exactly were the instructions the didn't follow? Stay there for hours more, stuck in the same chute the next batch was already coming down? Is that wall at the end artificially blocking the usual route out/forward? Was it put there fore the prince's passage, without anyone pausing the next batch? Etc. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:46, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

I now think this is definitely not the scene. Watch the parts of the video where the camera goes around to the building the filmer is on. This is on foot of that huge complex Jamarat where they throw their pebbles, outside of the tent camp you can see on the horizon. The videos of the aftermath (here's one that is said to show the incident ifself close-up without much visible context) are clearly inside the camp, with the characteristic tents on both sides behind fences. That would fit very much the place the wikipedia article says it happened, namely at the junction of roads 204 and 223. --CE (talk) 13:47, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Okay, that makes sense. I thought the test area is just where they took bodies but those are people crushed together right there. Some analysis falls apart, updates needed, and now it's time for work. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:21, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Act of God?

Oh man... --Caustic Logic (talk) 07:02, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

Sorry, still not enough snark saved-up to do this justice. Anyone else can have a go at it first. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:01, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

Saudi Arabia Blames Iran?

Not yet, explicitly, but I sense this coming. Iran has a batch of 300 persistently missing Iranians, each day seeming more likely than not to be among the dead, making it almost half Iranians dead. KSA might want to cover that up. KSA also has a batch of about 300 Iranians who they say caused the tragedy (intentionally for all we know) and also perhaps left the scene alive, and they're looking into it (see here). That itself might be a coincidence, but ...

The episode plays perfectly into Iran's ongoing campaign to de-Saudize the Hajj with OIC management. It fits, perhaps, too perfectly. See now the Foreign Minister's response to Tehran's understandable, predictable ... (taking of the bait?)

“I believe the Iranians should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty,” Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Al-Jubeir, delivering remarks along US Secretary of State John Kerry, insisted that Saudi Arabia is on top of the situation.
... we will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back. If mistakes were made, who made them will be held accountable,” Al-Jubeir said. ... “I would hope Iranian leaders would be more sensible and more thoughtful with regards to those who perished in this tragedy, and wait until we see the results of the investigation.”

I don't suppose this was actually set up just to come up with some bizarre explanation - I mean, how would they manage to block the scene and cause a deadly stampede, and yet walk away? Why wouldn't the others just follow them out? It makes no sense. In the end I suppose they'll have to blame suicide saboteurs if they follow through on this. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:01, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

  • October 3, Expanded to this analysis: Mina Hajj Tragedy: Saudi Arabia Blames Iran. I've been slow to ad to this page or anything else, working on that, slowly, on account of work (but that's easing now). Some interesting findings along the way, like al-Arabiya making a computer animation of these 300 hooligans, causing the crush in the wrong spot, and even showing that the right spot doesn't quite exist. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:01, 3 October 2015 (UTC)

Ambassador Intrigues?

One of Iran's more prominent likely victims of the tragedy is Ghazanfar Roknabadi, Iran's former ambassador to Lebanon and apparently still an influential figure. He's been consistently reported missing - not confirmed as dead or injured but not answering his phone - for five days now. Allegedly, Saudi authorities have denied he was even in the kingdom at all, so he shouldn't be expected to be identified, ever. I can't yet find the original report, but it's credited to al-Arabiya, and heartily refuted in Iran. Press TV reports

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham on Monday described as “incorrect” and "hasty" reports claiming that Saudi authorities have no official record on the entry of Ghazanfar Asl Roknabadi to the kingdom for performing Hajj rituals, saying the ministry has documents showing that Riyadh had approved an ordinary Hajj visa for the missing diplomat.
“Mr. Roknabadi set off for the Hajj pilgrimage with his ordinary passport and detailed information on the passports of all pilgrims, including his, are at the disposal of the authorities of the Saudi government,” Afkham said, reiterating that there is no “doubt” about the information and details of Roknabadi’s arrival in the kingdom.
The Saudi-owned Arabic-language TV channel Al Arabiya claimed earlier in the day that there had been no official records showing that Roknabadi had arrived in the Saudi territory for performing Hajj rituals. The report said that the diplomat could have entered the kingdom through unofficial channels.
Afkham denied the report as a fabrication inspired by ulterior motives, saying the Iranian Foreign Ministry has provided Saudi officials with identity documents of around 300 Iranian nationals who are still missing, including Roknabadi. She said those documents include one which shows Roknabadi’s passport had Hajj visa stamping.

The passport is shown, and it's mentioned that videos aired in Iranian media show the man on Hajj in Mecca before he vanished. Two cited at the Wikipedia article show: (video in Hajj robes) - (passport) In the video shared here, he's shown giving a speech there to fellow Hajjis, supposedly anyway. (from Persian/Farsi: Mehr news agency in response to the false news of some Arabic media that the absence of the former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon at the Hajj this year, the film "Ruknabadi" At a repudiation of the polytheists released this year.")

I checked Al-Arabiya's website, searching for his family name in English and Arabic ( رکن‌آبادی،) and found no recent matches on English or Arabic pages (he does appear in older reports). Is it one they just aired but didn't add to the page? Something they seeded then pulled? Or did I just miss it? --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:17, 30 September 2015 (UTC) and --Caustic Logic (talk) 07:24, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

The man is still missing. Apparently voices in Iran are getting louder who speculate that he was first sent to a hospital and later abducted (and maybe sent to Israel). They demand from the Saudis to return his body to end the rumours. --CE (talk) 19:47, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Ooh. Most bodies are returned, but not his? Huh. I expanded on this a bit here: They got his name wrong so they could suggest he was sneaking in (there was no Ghazanfar Abadi listed - finally found the Al-Arabiya source). And they can't find his body? Sounds like a surviving plot ringleader. They say some bodies were buried in the kingdom, but DNA samples were taken - his maybe not. Maybe he was never officially buried but unofficially and he'll just never turn up. Maybe they won't go ahead with the accusation but had the plank ready just in case... --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:56, 21 October 2015 (UTC) and Caustic Logic (talk) 07:15, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

Death Confirmation: On November 25, it's reported that Iranian media recently reported Roknabadi identified as dead. AFP via Naharnet:

"My brothers traveled to Saudi Arabia and after seeing his body announced they have identified him," the ex-diplomat's brother, Morteza, was quoted by the state television website as saying. ... Rokn Abadi's body will be repatriated on Thursday, he added. ... Iranian media did not give details of how and when he died.

But it might be interesting that almost exactly two months after the disaster his body was still so identifiable. Maybe just refrigeration? And it's definitely interesting that the Saudis were unwilling for so long to even admit the man was in the country, let alone recognize his fairly famous remains or let anyone else try, until now. The details explaining that delay, and any autopsy results will be of interest. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:48, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Earlier intrigues?

Man Pleads Guilty in New York to Conspiring with Iranian Military Officials to Assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, 17 October 2012, US DOJ

...In connection with his guilty plea, Arbabsiar admitted that, from the spring of 2011 to the fall of 2011, he conspired with officials in the Iranian military who were based in Iran to cause the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador while the ambassador was in the United States.

--Resup (talk) 01:01, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

False Claims

  • Bodies scooped up like trash with bulldozers: reports on images making the rounds on the Internet: bulldozers scoop, dump into dump trucks, and then a pile of victim bodies is shown. They describe "inhuman conduct," citing others who describe the treatment of victims as "like garbage." But despite the image's red circles to emphasize the trash vehicles, it appears that what they're shoveling up is trash. The location isn't the same either; a white marble, circular fountain with obelisk in the middle - a feature seen nowhere in the Jamarat bridge area.I didn't easily find a match in Mecca at all. This trash collection could be there or anywhere else in the world. It clearly doesn't matter. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:34, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
I don't know where the obelisk physically is, but judged by Google Images it is very much part of the ritual. --CE (talk) 13:55, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
Ah, the pillars are different but one set of 3 must be what's inside that bridge structure, for stoning, with the fullel channeling them down,. FWIW. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:23, 28 September 2015 (UTC)
  • Video of the stampede: (moved from front page, modified a bit)

Islamic Invitation Turkey shared a video allegedly of the incident along with this analysis:

As the gate opens, the Saudi security forces are seen forming a chain that limits even further the space for the pilgrims, who flood through the gate in panic with increasing speed, apparently triggering the crush.
People are then heard screaming as the massive flow of pilgrims through the gate continues, with the Saudi security forces on the ground only standing to direct the crowd to a single direction rather than allowing them to disperse more freely.

Here's a panoramic view of the gathered crowd, with prior direction perhaps mattering little as they've all come to a stand-still here, and the deadly bottleneck gate marked in green.

Mina Corrall Panoramic.png

Scene verification, compared to Al-Jamarat Bridge on Wikimapia: the background is unclear all around, but noting the view from a large bridge with attached bridges and the ground type below, this is consistent with a view off the northeast side of any northwest-running bridge in there, if it's around 9 am as reported.

However, as discussed above, this is not the scene where a thousand died, but over one km away on the bridge structure. No serious crush is evident here, most walk out fine on their own feet, etc. If this is the scene of some avoidable discomfort as the analysis suggested, it's another example, not the same. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:30, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

Saudi justice

  • ‏@A_J_S_B on Twitter (video)
    #SaudiArabia, in charge of #UN's HR, beheads 28 guards because stampede.
Talk page ... FTR it shows from a distance two swift sword beheadings. I asked the poster if that might just be recycled video to illustrate a claim I'm not sure is true. But it's been reported - 28 Hajj management workers beheaded for their total and unexplained screw up. It was supposed to happen on the 26th, I think, 2 days after (see Breitbart, citing Ad-Diyar (Arabic). That should be some kind of scandal if true - An act of God's will, no human fault, not the king's fault, these guys' fault, maybe an Iranian plot. Maybe these workers were the only ones who knew the truth - prime witnesses - and that's why they died, and there's your al-Saud 300-year-regime attitude towards investigation. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:50, 18 October 2015 (UTC)