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Iran says death toll of nationals in haj crush rises to 464
The Iranian toll is thus far the highest reported by any country in last month’s disaster, in which Saudi authorities say a total of 769 people died.
Also in the incident, 28 Iranian pilgrims were injured and 248 others missing, according to IRNA.
His comments came after Saudi Arabia’s chief cleric, grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah Al-Sheikh sought to clear Riyadh of any blame for the tragedy in Mecca.
Iran has topped the list of fatalities, reporting 239 as of Wednesday.
But in the face of stiff resistance from Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, and to the dismay of human rights groups, Western governments have accepted a resolution based on a Saudi text that lacks any reference to an independent, worldwide inquiry.
Tehran and Riyadh has reached an agreement to speed up the return of the bodies of Iranian victims.
There is also anger and anxiety elsewhere in the Muslim world.
In Bamako, Mali, Salamata Anna Baby is among numerous families without word from their loved ones. Accommodating two to three million people in one place at the same time for about two weeks will test anyone’s mettle.
From Africa to Asia, there is a shared pain.
‘The families of the missing people are in distress, ‘ the Arab News quoted Mehbooba Mufti, leader of India’s hajj delegation, as saying.
Pakistan gave a figure of 46 dead and more than 40 unaccounted for. But the citizens have complained about the incompetency and indifference of concerned Hajj authorities both in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
“In the last week there have been many anti-Saudi demonstrations in many cities in Iran“, she says, “Many have called for the Saudi embassy to be shut down”.
The deputy chief of staff of Iranian Brigadier General Massud Jazayeri suggested that the September 24 stampede and the deadly Mecca crane collapse on September 11 may have been deliberately orchestrated by Israel and the Saudi government. The claims were denied by Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which reported that he entered the Kingdom using his regular passport.
Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on making the world’s biggest gathering of people safe.
Thursday’s report saw the death toll rise dramatically – nearly doubling – from the previously reported death toll of 239.
Those unidentified bodies who are clearly Iranian would be repatriated first and identified at home, he told AFP news agency.
He said this could be quicker than waiting for the release of photos.
The Iranian news agency Tasnim depicted King Salman of Saudi Arabia as a camel trampling the pilgrims under its hooves, while the Kayhan newspaper showed the king shaking hands with one of the pillars symbolizing the devil in the hajj’s stoning ritual.