Rouhani Back Home to Honor Hajj Disaster Victims

Rouhani Back Home to Honor Hajj Disaster VictimsRouhani Back Home to Honor Hajj Disaster Victims

President Hassan Rouhani cut short his trip to New York for the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and returned to Tehran on Tuesday to attend a ceremony to pay tribute to the pilgrims who recently died in a crush near Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The tragedy occurred when two groups of worshippers on Thursday converged at a crossroads in Mina on their way to perform a Hajj ritual in Jamarat, in which they hurl stones at three pillars symbolizing the devil.

The bodies of some victims were expected to arrive in Tehran on Tuesday or Wednesday, IRNA reported.

Last Week Rouhani instructed Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri in Tehran to set up a special committee to assist the affected pilgrims and oversee the repatriation of the victims' bodies.   

Arriving at Mehrabad Airport, the president told reporters that his government has been trying to locate the missing pilgrims.   

"Saudi Arabia should fulfill its obligations to foreign nationals and pilgrims under international law and reveal the details and the cause of the incident."

The disaster made Rouhani leave the summit one day ahead of the schedule and cancel his scheduled appointments.

During his stay in New York in addition to addressing a summit on global sustainable development goals, he delivered a speech at the annual UNGA on Monday.

"I stressed in both of my speeches that this is not a normal incident and (the issue) is far too significant to be settled merely by financial compensation," the president added.

Reports until Tuesday evening by the media put the death toll of Iranian pilgrims at about 240, with a similar number yet to be accounted for and over 25 injured.