“We were assured that no Iranian would be buried [in Saudi Arabia] without the permission of the government and their relatives”, he said.
The dispute between Tehran and Riyadh comes as the two countries are locked in a bitter power struggle for control in the region, which has seen a Saudi-led coalition bomb Iran-allied Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Speaking in an interview on Citi Eyewitness news, Thursday, Alhaji Sinare explained that apart from those who died from the stampede, the rest died in various clinics in Mecca or by natural means. The latest death toll update on Thursday on has almost doubled previous figures. Iranians now account for more than half of the 769 killed in last week’s tragedy near Mecca – the highest confirmed death toll among any foreign nationality, followed by Egypt with 75.
“The Saudi government’s sympathy and compensation money doesn’t bring back my brother to his family”, Haji Faiz, the brother of Salavat Khan from Peshawar, told Iranian Fars News Agency.
Those unidentified bodies who are clearly Iranian would be repatriated first and identified at home, Hashemi added. For nine years, there had been no major disasters at the Hajj, a much lauded success after a period from 1990-2006 when crowd crushes and fires that killed hundreds of people took place every two to three years.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say in matters of state, said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia wasn’t repatriating the bodies of dead Iranians efficiently, according to IRNA, and promised a harsh response should the Kingdom fail to return them.
Saudi Arabia, for its part, has accused Iran of using the tragedy politically.
Iran claimed that the number of deaths was almost 2,000 but the Saudi Arabia’s official claim is 769.
On September 11, a massive construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque in stormy weather, killing at least 107 people, including 11 Iranians, and injuring 201 others.
Marziyeh Afkham on Tuesday once again blamed the tragic incident on Saudi Arabia’s “mismanagement and incompetence”, urging the Kingdom to stop shirking responsibility and shifting the blame onto others.
Iranian authorities said there was no longer expectation of finding any of the lost pilgrims in the country’s living.