Iranian FM summons Saudi envoy over Hajj deaths

Published September 30th, 2015 - 09:30 GMT

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d'affaires in Tehran for the fourth time to protest against Riyadh authorities' mishandling of the recent deadly crush in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca in the kingdom.

On Wednesday, Director General for Consular Affairs at Iran's Foreign Ministry Ali Chegin warned Riyadh against any indifference and delay in the identification of the missing Iranian Hajj pilgrims and the transfer of the bodies of the victims of the Mina incident to Iran.

Chegini called on the Saudi envoy to facilitate work to return the bodies and establish the fate of the Iranian pilgrims who are still missing six days on since the Hajj crush.

The Iranian official said that the families of the Iranian pilgrims killed in the incident want the bodies of the victims to be transferred to Iran as soon as possible and would not agree to have their loved ones buried on Saudi soil.

On Saturday, Iran summoned the envoy for the third time to call for the return of the bodies of pilgrims and the transfer of the wounded Iranians to medical centers in the country for treatment.

Meanwhile, Hamid Mohammadi, the deputy head of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, said Monday that the work to identify the missing pilgrims is progressing at a snail's pace due to restrictions in Saudi Arabia.

As soon as the limitations are lifted, Mohammadi added, the bodies of the dead pilgrims will be returned home.

The fatal crush in the Saudi town of Mina occurred on September 24 after two large crowds of pilgrims, who were on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan, a Hajj ritual, collided. Saudi Arabia has so far confirmed the deaths of nearly 770 pilgrims in the incident.

Saeed Ohadi head of Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization said on Tuesday that 239 Iranian pilgrims have so far been confirmed dead in the Mina tragedy. He added that 14 Iranian pilgrims have been wounded while 241 others are still unaccounted for.

Ohadi has estimated that the total death toll from the crush could stand at around 4,700 due to the huge scale of the incident.

The Mina tragic event came days after a massive construction crane collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing nearly 110 people and injuring about 400 more.

Eleven Iranian pilgrims were among the deceased and 32 of the injured were also Iranian nationals.

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