At least 56 people are dead and another 213 injured after a stampede Tuesday during the funeral procession for Qasem Soleimani, the slain commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.
The deaths occurred along the route to Soleimani’s burial place in Kerman, his hometown, where hundreds of thousands of mourners filled the streets. According to the BBC, the problem stemmed from a poorly planned route that saw thousands of people crammed onto a single street.
“The route that they chose was too narrow for this crowd. This is something that could have been prevented,” said one Kerman resident, who was not named.
“The surrounding alleyways were also blocked for different reasons,” he said. “There was no way to go back or to escape through a side street.”
The tragedy in Kerman comes a day after enormous crowds gathered in Tehran to pay their respects to the military leader, who was killed last week by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani prayed over Soleimani’s body during the funeral in Tehran. His body was then taken to the holy city of Qom before arriving in Kerman.
Hossein Salami, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, delivered a fiery speech to the massive crowd in Kerman before the stampede. “We tell our enemies that we will retaliate, but if they take another action we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about,” he said, according to the AP. The crowd responded by chanting “Death to Israel.”
Salami also promised that Iran “will take revenge.” How it does so remains an open question, but the country’s parliament appeared to set the table for an attack on the U.S. Tuesday when its parliament unanimously declared the entire U.S. military a terrorist organization.