Middle East

Hajj stampede: Iran victims' bodies repatriated

A ceremony in Tehran for victims of the Hajj stampede Image copyright AFP
Image caption More Iranians died in the stampede than any other nationality

The first bodies of Iranian pilgrims killed in a stampede during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca have arrived back in the capital Tehran.

The ceremony saw 104 bodies returned home from Saudi Arabia. Iran says at least 464 of its nationals were killed.

The Saudi authorities put the total death toll at 769 but foreign media reports and officials put the figure at well over 1,000.

Tehran has blamed the incident on Saudi "mismanagement".

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has accused Iran of "playing politics" with the disaster, calling on Tehran to await the outcome of an investigation.

Speaking at the repatriation ceremony, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, said the tragedy was a "big test" for everyone.

"In this incident, our language has been that of fraternity and respect," he said.

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Media captionAleem Maqbool reports from Mecca where relatives continue to search for missing loved ones after last week's Hajj tragedy

"When required, we have used the language of diplomacy. If needed, the Islamic Republic of Iran will also use language of power."

The crush happened as two large groups of pilgrims converged as they were taking part in one of the Hajj's major rites.

The Saudi authorities have not released a breakdown of victims by nationality.

BBC Monitoring puts the death toll at 1,216, based on official statements and media reports from 34 countries who lost citizens in the stampede.

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