Senior Iranian official offers condolences to Roknabadi’s family
A senior Iranian official has offered condolences to the family of a former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon who had been missing since the September 24 crush in Saudi Arabia until recently, when his body was identified.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, met with the family of late Ghazanfar Roknabadi on Wednesday and expressed sympathy with them on behalf of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Roknabadi had been missing for almost two months. His body was identified following DNA tests, media reported on Wednesday, adding that evidence shows he lost his life in Mina. The news brought closure to his family and to Iranian people in general, who had repeatedly been exposed to speculations that the former Iranian envoy to Lebanon may be injured but alive or that he may be in captivity.
The crush took place during this year’s Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia when two large masses of pilgrims were directed by Saudi authorities toward one another and fused at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of the holy city of Mecca, as they were on their way to participate in the symbolic stoning of Satan in Jamarat.
Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed in Mina, but officials with Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including 464 Iranians, lost their lives in the tragedy. The number of the Iranian fatalities exceeds that of other countries.
Iran has censured Saudi Arabia for failing to responsibly carry out its duties during Hajj, saying Riyadh’s incompetence in handling safety at the rituals caused the deadly incident.
After the crush, Saudi Arabia initially even denied that Roknabadi had entered the country for Hajj.
During his Wednesday meeting with the Roknabadis, Amir-Abdollahian reiterated that the Riyadh government is responsible for the tragedy in Saudi Arabia.
Roknabadi’s body is expected to arrive back home by Saturday.