Said Evhedi, the President of Iran's Hajj Council on Monday has claimed that a total of at least 4,700 pilgrims have died in the recent hajj stampede tragedy, challenging official figures released by Saudi Arabia, which put the death toll at 769.
Evhedi has reportedly spoken at Iranian TV channel IRINN and stated that the death toll is much higher than Saudi figures.
"We believe that at least 4,700 people died in the hajj stampede and there are at least 3,000 corpses awaiting identification in 21 trucks" Evhedi said, while noting that the number of Iranians who died in the incident has risen to 228.
Evhedi stated that there is almost 250 people missing, and that Iran was 'concerned' about the possibility of the death toll rising.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Emir Husain Abdullahiyan has strictly opposed the idea of burying the dead in mass graves, rather than sending them back to their homelands.
"We will never permit Saudi Arabia do such a thing" he said.
Amid the proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh taking place in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, the stampede that left hundreds of dead increased tensions between the two countries as most of the dead hajis Iranians.
Iran on Saturday vowed to take international legal action against Saudi Arabia's rulers over the crush of Muslim pilgrims during this year's hajj.
"Under international law, this incident is absolutely subject to prosecution. The Al-Saud must be responsive," Iran's State Prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi told state TV, referring to Saudi Arabia's ruling family. He said Saudi authorities blocked a road used by hajj pilgrims to allow a royal convoy to pass through, causing the deadly convergence in the town of Mina on the outskirts of Mecca. "They have to know that we will pursue the trial of Al-Saud for the crime they have committed against the hajj pilgrims through international courts and organizations."
Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia is a state party to the International Criminal Court, and only the court's prosecutor can file charges. Iran could try to file a case at the International Court of Justice, which handles disputes between nations but does not mete out criminal justice.
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