Victims of Hajj Tragedy Honored

Victims of Hajj Tragedy HonoredVictims of Hajj Tragedy Honored

In a ceremony in Tehran on Saturday to commemorate 104 of the 465 Iranian victims of the recent Mina crush disaster whose bodies were transferred to Iran, President Hassan Rouhani stressed the need to set up a "fact-finding committee" to investigate the incident.

"A fact-finding committee needs to be established to shed light on the issue. All Muslim countries should know about the cause of the incident and be assured that a similar disaster will not happen in the future," the president was quoted by IRNA as saying.

Apart from Rouhani, the heads of the other two branches of the government were among the high-level officials present in the ceremony.

The tragedy happened on September 24 when two groups of worshippers in the annual Hajj pilgrimage converged on a narrow street in Mina, 6 kilometers east of Mecca, on their way to Jamarat to perform the stoning-of-the-devil ritual.

The funeral processions for the victims are to be held today.

"The Mina disaster has posed a test to the Saudi government, relevant international bodies and Muslim countries," the president said.

The incident drew sharp criticisms from Iranian officials who blamed Saudis for their ineptitude in handling the issue and the Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi charge d'affaires four times to protest the Arab kingdom's lack of cooperation over the tragedy.

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The spokesperson for the government, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, told reporters, “The government of the Islamic Republic will use all means available through diplomatic, official and non-official channels and through other countries to pursue the issue of the perished Iranian Hajj pilgrims.”

He added the government is working on a complaint on behalf of the victims against organizers of the annual Islamic gathering.

Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi told reporters on a flight back home from Saudi Arabia on Saturday that bodies of another group of Hajj victims were due to arrive in Tehran on a plane later in the day, adding, “According to the figures, 465 Iranians lost their lives, but not all the bodies have been recovered.”

“We hope that Saudi authorities will cooperate to help find the remaining bodies,” he added.

Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who had traveled to Riyadh at the head of a delegation to oversee repatriation of the victims, met his Saudi counterpart Khalid al-Falih in Jeddah on Thursday.

In the meeting, the Saudi official conveyed a message of condolences to the Iranian government and families of the victims, and asserted Riyadh’s wish to cooperate with Tehran.