News ID: 127530
Published: 0923 GMT September 24, 2015

Saudi Arabia must answer to Iran, other states over Hajj deaths: Deputy FM

Saudi Arabia must answer to Iran, other states over Hajj deaths: Deputy FM

A senior Iranian official says Saudi Arabia should be held accountable over the death of several hundred Hajj pilgrims in the holy city of Mecca.

"Saudi Arabia should be answerable to the Islamic Republic [of Iran] and other countries that could not perform a calm Hajj [ritual]," Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Thursday.

Amir-Abdollahian's remarks came after at least 717 people, including 122 Iranians, were killed and nearly 863 others were injured in a crush during Hajj pilgrimage rituals outside Mecca.

He also said that the fatal crush started after Saudi security forces blocked two streets while the pilgrims were walking towards the final ritual of the Hajj. 

"We can by no means remain indifferent towards Saudi Arabia's irresponsible behavior," said Amir-Abdollahian, adding, “The tactlessness on the part of relevant Saudi authorities to provide security for the pilgrims cannot be overlooked.”

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia’s charge d'affaires to Tehran was summoned to Iran's Foreign Ministry to hear the Islamic Republic’s protest over the mishandling of the deadly incident by Saudi authorities. 

For his part, the Saudi diplomat expressed regret over the fatal incident and offered condolences to the Iranian government and the families of the killed pilgrims.  

Earlier on Thursday, Amir-Abdollahian held the Saudi authorities responsible for Thursday's tragedy, and said they should promptly act to manage the crisis.

Iran's First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri laid the blame on the Saudi government for the tragic incident, saying "the consequences of any negligence" falls upon the Saudi government.

According to Saudi disaster officials, the incident occurred in Mina, near Mecca, on Thursday after two large masses of pilgrims coming down streets 204 and 223 fused together.

The tragedy came days after a massive construction crane collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 people and leaving over 200 others injured.

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