The hajj season of 2015 will always be remembered – not just in Saudi Arabia, but in each and every country that lost pilgrims in one of the deadliest stampedes in the history of the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites.
Speaking at the repatriation ceremony, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, said that the tragedy was a “big test” for everyone.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – The first plane carrying bodies of Iranian pilgrims killed in the hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia arrived in Tehran Saturday, nine days after the disaster that escalated tensions between the two regional rivals.
“The armed forces must urgently increase their readiness, so that the enemy dare not think of attacking”, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by Iranian agencies in a meeting with army commanders.
Meanwhile, seven injured Pakistani pilgrims are being treated in Saudi Arabia while 60 are still believed to be missing.
“We will identify all the bodies, which are not only those from Indonesia but also the victims (from other countries)”, he said.
“In this incident, our language has been that of fraternity and respect”, he said.
More bodies were expected to be flown home later yesterday but Iran’s health minister said not all of the Iranian dead had yet been found and many were thought to be lying unidentified in sealed containers.
But another footage revealed the air filled with about 100 rescue helicopters in the scene of the incident and the local media awash with news about thousands of ambulances busy rescuing the victims, implying the Saudi authorities’ level of preparation. Saudi Arabia has launched an investigation and says officials will be held accountable if it finds that mistakes were made.
After Iran, Egypt has reported the biggest death toll, with 124 martyred. Forty six other Pakistanis are still being hospitalized in Saudi Arabia while 40 have been discharged.
The crush took place after two large masses of pilgrims fused at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of the holy city of Mecca, on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan in Jamarat.
He also said the Saudi authorities can not continue to announce the casualty figures of the dead until the investigative committee set up by the Saudi ruler, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz submits its report.