Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared three days of national mourning following the deaths of several hundred Hajj pilgrims, including Iranians, in the holy city of Mecca.
“Offering condolences to the bereaved families of the killed pilgrims, I declare three days of national mourning in the country,” Ayatollah Khamenei said in a message on Thursday.
‘The Saudi government is obliged to accept its heavy responsibility in this bitter incident and meet its obligations in compliance with the rule of righteousness and fairness; mismanagement and improper measures that were behind this tragedy should not be undermined,” the Leader said.
Iran accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors after its citizens died Thursday in a stampede that killed 717 Muslim pilgrims during the annual hajj ceremonies, marking the worst such disaster in 25 years.
Iran’s Rouhani orders task force to address Mina disaster
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the formation of a special task force to address the recent incident outside the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia during which overcrowding led to the deaths of hundreds of pilgrims.
In a message, Rouhani asked the country’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri to set up the mission as soon as possible and constantly inform him and the nation about its findings, the president’s official website reported early on Friday.
Among its objectives, the taskforce would have to send over aid teams, if need be, and dispatch aircraft to Saudi Arabia in order to assist the pilgrims and the wounded and also transfer the bodies of the Iranian pilgrims killed back to the country.
Saudi disaster officials say the incident occurred in Mina, near Mecca, at 9 am local time (0600 GMT) on Thursday after two large masses of pilgrims fused together.
Saudi authorities say 717 people were killed in the incident, while Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization puts the death toll at more than 1,300.
Meanwhile, the number of the Iranian pilgrims killed has hit 131.
In his message, Rouhani also asked Riyadh to take responsibility for the disaster and fulfill its legal and Islamic obligations in this regard.
Arabic-language daily al-Diyar has said the presence of the convoy of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in the middle of the population prompted a change in the direction of the movement of the pilgrims and the subsequent crush. It said Salman had sought to attend the huge gathering of pilgrims in Mina.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has declared three days of national mourning following the disaster.