Tehran: Iran accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors after at least 43 of its citizens died on Thursday in a stampede that killed several hundred pilgrims during the annual Haj ceremonies.
After saying the kingdom was responsible for the tragedy, deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Saudi’s envoy to Tehran would be summoned to the foreign ministry.
The head of Iran’s Haj organisation, Said Ohadi, said that, for “unknown reasons,” two paths had been closed off near the site of a symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the stampede occurred. “This caused this tragic incident,” he said.
The names of all Iranians killed in the stampede were read out in a sombre live broadcast in Tehran by a spokesman for the Haj organisation. Saudi’s civil defence service has said at least 717 people were killed and 805 hurt.
Mr Ohadi said the path closures had left only three routes to the area where the stoning ceremony was held in Mina, about five kilometres from Mecca.
“Today’s incident shows mismanagement and lack of serious attention to the safety of pilgrims,” said Mr Ohadi. “There is no other explanation. The Saudi officials should be held accountable.”