Tehran has called for the immediate return of the bodies of Iranian pilgrims who were killed in a Hajj crush in Saudi Arabia, a senior Iranian diplomat says.
Official talks are currently underway between Iranian Health Minister Hassan Hashemi and Saudi officials about how the pilgrims’ remains will be transported to Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Wednesday.
Determining the fate of the missing people and the transportation of “every single body” is a priority for Iran, he added.
“Communications are being carried out between the two countries to speed up things and Dr. Hashemi’s trip as the representative of the government has been very effective,” he noted.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hashemi — who is in Saudi Arabia along with a special delegation — said Iran would be the first country to receive the remains and transport them home.
He noted that his team had been granted access to the morgues in Mecca, where the victims’ bodies were being held.
Hashemi stressed that he had gained confirmation that none of the Iranian bodies would be buried in Saudi Arabia without permission from family members or the Iranian government.
On September 24, two large crowds of pilgrims, who were on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan, a Hajj ritual, collided in Mina, resulting in a fatal crush.
According to the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, Saeed Ohadi, 239 Iranian pilgrims have so far been confirmed dead in the incident. Twenty-seven Iranian pilgrims have also been wounded and 241 others remain unaccounted for.