TEHERAN, Sept 27 — Iran’s supreme leader has called on Saudi Arabia to apologise for Thursday’s deadly stampede during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks came after a speech by President Hassan Rouhani at the UN in which he called for an investigation.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of playing politics with a tragedy.
At least 769 people died in the crush, more than 140 of them from Iran.
It was the deadliest incident to hit the Hajj in 25 years.
The crush occurred on Thursday morning as two large groups of pilgrims converged at right angles as they took part in the Hajj’s last major rite – stone-throwing at pillars called Jamarat, where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham.
“This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
“Instead of accusing this and that, the Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologise to the Muslims and the victims’ families,” he added.
“The Islamic world has a lot of questions. The death of more than 1,000 people is not a small issue,” he said, citing claims by Iranian officials of a higher death toll.
President Rouhani has described the stampede as “heart-rending”.
Also on Saturday, Prosecutor General Sayed Ibrahim Raisi said on state television that Iran would seek the trial of the Saudi royal family over its “crimes” in “international courts”.
As well as the fatalities, 934 people were injured.
But Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who is also in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, said: “I believe that the Iranians should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty.”
Earlier, the country’s most senior cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh, defended the authorities, saying the stampede was “beyond human control”.
King Salman has ordered a safety review into the disaster.
The disaster is the second to strike in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing 109 people.
Saturday was the final day of the Hajj, with no further incidents reported.
Deaths reported so far by nationality
- Iran: at least 140
- Morocco: 87 (media reports)
- Cameroon: at least 20
- Niger: at least 19
- India: 18
- Pakistan: 18
- Egypt: 37
- Chad: 11
- Somalia: 8 (media reports)
- Senegal: 5
- Algeria: 4
- Tanzania: 4
- Turkey: 4
- Indonesia: 3
- Kenya: 3
- Nigeria: 3
- Netherlands: 1
- Burundi: 1
- Burkina Faso: 1
- Other nationalities (numbers not yet known): Benin