Wed Oct 14, 2015 06:29AM
Saudi emergency personnel and Hajj pilgrims stand near the bodies covered in sheets at the site of a crush in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, September 24, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
Saudi emergency personnel and Hajj pilgrims stand near the bodies covered in sheets at the site of a crush in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, September 24, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Seventeen Iranian pilgrims listed as "missing" in a deadly crush during Hajj rituals in Mina, near the holy Saudi city of Mecca, have been identified, says the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization. 

Saeed Ohadi said on Tuesday that the victims are “among the 1,450 bodies buried in Mecca.”

Ohadi said that the victims, who were among 65 Iranian pilgrims unaccounted for following the Mina tragedy, were identified through their fingerprints and nails.

He said that the identities of 12 victims have been determined while the other five bodies have been proved to be Iranian nationals.

The crush occurred on September 24 after two large masses of pilgrims converged at a crossroads in Mina during the symbolic ceremony of the stoning of Satan in Jamarat.

Saudi Arabia claims nearly 770 people were killed in the incident, but officials at Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization say about 4,700 people, including 464 Iranian pilgrims, lost their lives in the tragedy. However, foreign officials put the death toll at 1,674.

The bodies of 399 Iranian victims have been repatriated so far.

The guard of honor carries the caskets of Iranian pilgrims, killed in a crush at the annual Hajj pilgrimage, during a repatriation ceremony upon their arrival at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on October 3, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

 

Saudi Arabia has come under harsh criticism over its role and handling of the incident.

Earlier on October 11, the head of Iran’s Hajj mission censured the Saudi mismanagement of the pilgrimage, which resulted in the massive loss of pilgrims’ lives.

“The Saudi government cannot handle the Hajj with this imprudence, negligence, and traditional methods; therefore, it should reconsider the management of the Hajj by drawing on Islamic countries’ potential,” said Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Ali Qazi-Askar, the representative of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for Hajj and pilgrimage affairs.