Rouhani Slams Saudi ’Incompetence’ over Deadly Hajj Stampede
Iranian President Sheikh Hassan Rouhani on Monday accused Saudi Arabia of incompetence over the deadly hajj stampede and demanded an investigation of the disaster.
A total of 769 pilgrims including 226 Iranians were killed in the worst tragedy to hit the hajj in a quarter-century.
The number of Iranians still missing after Thursday’s tragedy stood at 248, and 27 were being treated for injuries, said the chief of Iran’s hajj organization, Said Ohadi, cited by the official IRNA news agency.
The pilgrims were taking part in a “grand and global spiritual gathering of the hajj” but “fell victim to the incompetence and mismanagement of those in charge,” said Rouhani in his address to the UN General Assembly.
Iran has been deeply critical of Saudi Arabia over the tragedy, accusing it of serious safety lapses.
The Iranian president was to cut short his visit to New York and return to Tehran after his address to attend a repatriation ceremony for the bodies of the victims.
Rouhani urged Riyadh to allow immediate consular access to quickly identify the bodies and ensure their return home.
He called for “an independent and precise investigation into the causes of this disaster and ways of preventing its repetition in the future.”
Sheikh Rouhani also called for ‘united front’ against violent extremism, and expressed Iran readiness to help ‘bring about democracy’ to Syria and Yemen.
Rouhani was making his first visit to the United Nations since the nuclear accord was reached with the so-called P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, plus Germany.