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Iran Says Its Hajj Death Toll Hits 464

  • VOA News

Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.

Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.

Iran's hajj organization said Thursday that 464 Iranians are now confirmed dead after last week's stampede during the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Before Thursday, Iran's total had been half that number with the fate of others unknown since the crush of pilgrims happened outside the city of Mecca last week. Saudi authorities have said the total number of victims is at least 769 people with Iranians making up the largest share.

Pilgrims have blamed the stampede in Mina on police road closures and poor management.

Iranian officials sharply criticized Saudi Arabia while Iranians staged daily protests outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

The two countries held talks on Wednesday and agreed to repatriate the Iranian dead as soon as possible.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had warned that Saudi Arabia would face "harsh" measures if its regional rival did not send the bodies of Iranian pilgrims back home.

There have been multiple deadly stampedes during the hajj, but the one this year was by far the worst since 1990 when more than 1,400 people died.

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