Minister: Exact number of Hajj victims to be announced after return of all pilgrims

Tehran, Oct 6, IRNA – Iranian Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education Seyed Hassan Hashemi said on Tuesday that accurate number of the Hajj tragedy victims will be announced once all Hajj Pilgrims return from Saudi Arabia.

Hashemi said based on the statement, released by the Public Relations Department of Supreme Leader Bethe (Supreme Leader’s Special Office for Hajj Affairs) and the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, a total of 465 people were killed.

He cautioned against using the word ‘dead’ for all victims of the incident and said from the view point of Iranian government, the word ‘dead’ is not the proper word for all the people and the precise statistics will be announced after return of all the pilgrims from Saudi Arabia.

‘Thus far, more than 300 out of 465 people have been declared losing life in the incident have been flown to the country and the remaining bodies should be found in the coming days in the mortuaries not visited yet. There are yet a number of people whose fate is unclear and the Islamic Republic of Iran government will demand them from Saudi kingdom.’

‘Part of those missing might be among those arrested or kept in Saudi detention centers and jails or hospitals, but the officials are not yet informed of them due to the extent of the catastrophe.

Attributing the word ‘dead’ will be right for those group of people whose bodies are transferred to the country and on this basis about 300 out of 465, whose bodies have been identified and delivered to us, are among the victims.’

On identification of the victims, he said identification of the victims involves a complicated process undertaken by Saudi forensic medicine and the bodies are got out of Saudi Arabia once the exit stamp is laid on the passport of the deceased. Five Iranian medical teams work alongside to identify the people, he added.

He said all necessary medical measures will be taken to prove identity of the victims and carefully specify the reasons of death.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Minister said bodies of seven of the victims have been buried in Mecca on consent of their families.

On Saudi cooperation with Iran in connection with identification of the victims, he said, ‘We are in phone contact with Saudi Health Ministry almost everyday.’