At least 35 people have been killed in a stampede that erupted in the Iranian city of Kerman at the funeral procession for a top commander killed in an air attack by the United States, Iran’s state television said.
Another 48 people were wounded in Tuesday’s stampede, according to local media reports.
Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered in Kerman for the burial of Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, who was assassinated on Friday near the international airport of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.
Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road, others shouting and trying to help them.
Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, earlier spoke by telephone to state television and confirmed the stampede took place.
“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” he said.
A procession in Tehran a day earlier drew huge crowds packing both main thoroughfares and side streets. It saw Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei weep openly as he led funeral prayers in front of the Tehran University.
Tuesday’s funeral comes after days of processions that started in the streets of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran, followed by Mashhad in the northwest, the capital Tehran and the holy city of Qom.
Al Jazeera’s Assed Beig, reporting from Tehran, said many who were unable to attend the previous gatherings had made their way to the final procession in Kerman that will end with the burial of Soleimani’s remains.
“People are travelling in narrow spaces, going in one direction to that specific graveyard – and that could be one of the reasons as to why a stampede has happened,” Beig said. (Al Jazeera)