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Independent Tallies Put Death Toll From Hajj Crush Over 1,358

The stampede last month during the hajj pilgrimage near Mecca killed between 1,221 and 1,399 people, according to independent tallies by news organizations.

That is far more than the 769 dead officially reported by Saudi Arabia. The independent tallies are based on the number of dead reported by individual countries whose citizens were in the crush.

Iran, for example, has reported the most casualties at 464. Egypt has reported 165, while Indonesia has reported 120.

The stunningly high toll for Iran has prompted repeated charges of Saudi incompetence and covering up from Iran's leadership.

The Associated Press counts 1,470 dead, which would make it the deadliest hajj tragedy ever, surpassing a 1990 stampede in which 1,426 people were killed.

AP says Saudi Arabia appears to be trying to protect its image as a steward of Islam's holiest sites.

AFP puts the toll at 1,358. The kingdom has not updated its figures since September 26, two days after the disaster.

"Discrediting the Saudi handling of the hajj undermines the kingdom's prestige and legitimacy across the Islamic world," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer now at the Brookings Institution.

Also tarnishing Saudi's image was a September 11 crane crash that killed 111 people worshiping at Mecca's Grand Mosque.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP