Iranian death toll from Hajj stampede doubles

Iran says 464 citizens killed in deadly stampede during Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An ambulance evacuates victims following a crush caused by large numbers of people pushing at Mina outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca on September 24, 2015

Iran has announced that the number of  its citizens believed to have been killed in a deadly stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca has risen to 464, almost twice as high as original figures suggested.

The death toll for Iranian citizens was initially declared to be 239, but Iran revised this figure up after losing hope of finding more than 200 Iranians who have been missing since last week’s incident.

"Seven days after this tragic accident... the status of all [pilgrims] injured has been completely cleared and reported," Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization confirmed in a televised statement on Thursday after Iranian Red Crescent official Ali Marashi said the missing were most likely dead.

While Saudi officials claim at least 769 people from multiple countries were killed during the stampede, Pakistani and Indian officials later claimed Saudi Arabia released almost 1,100 pictures of those killed to diplomats.

Iran, meanwhile, has claimed the death toll exceeds 4,000 and has repeatedly called on Saudi Arabia to release the bodies of the dead to their home countries.

On Wednesday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened Saudi Arabia with “fierce” action over what he said was the failure of Saudi officials to return the bodies.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony for navy officers, Khamenei said "Should we decide to show any reaction, our reaction will be tough and harsh."

Also on Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who has called for "an independent and precise investigation” into the causes of this disaster, summoned the Saudi ambassador to Iran for the fourth time since the tragedy after the delivery of the bodies was delayed.

Iran's IRNA news agency, however, on Thursday reported that Iranian Health Minister Hassan Hashemi and his Saudi counterpart Khaled al-Falih had agreed to speed up the process of repatriating the bodies back to Iran.

TRTWorld and agencies