THE National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has confirmed that 145 Nigerians were killed in the September 24, stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia. In an update, on Sunday, October 11, Saleh Okenwa, commissioner in charge of Planning, Research, Information and Library Services, NAHCON, said seven of the 42 injured pilgrims were still on admission at various hospitals in Saudi Arabia.
He said the number of pilgrims earlier declared missing had reduced from 214 to 165 following the discovery of additional bodies of some Nigerians killed in the stampede. On the transportation of pilgrims back to Nigeria, Saleh Modibbo, commissioner in charge of operations, NAHCON, said more than 60 percent of the pilgrims had been transported back to the country.
Specifically, he said 40,850 of the 76,000 Nigerians, who performed the pilgrimage, had been transported back to the country. Among those transported back to Nigeria are pilgrims from Kwara, Gombe and Nassarawa States. Modibbo said the various committees set up by NAHCON helped in processing the pilgrims’ documents and luggage.
On his part, Abdullahi Mukhtar, chairman of the commission, said the Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia would continue to monitor the seven injured pilgrims still on admission at various Saudi hospitals even after the Hajj operation. “We have consistently been monitoring them; the Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia will continue to monitor them after the hajj operation until they are discharged,” he said.
Mukhtar said bodies of the deceased had been buried, according to Islamic rights. He said it was not true that the deceased were buried en masse as speculated by a section of the Nigerian society. The chairman said the Saudi authorities took finger prints of the deceased and that DNA tests would be conducted on mutilated bodies to ascertain whether those declared missing were dead or alive.
“Blood samples of the deceased pilgrims already in Saudi Arabia were taken while that of those who do not have immediate members of their families here will be taken in Nigeria and transported to Mecca for the test.” On victims of the crane crash, Mukhtar said the Nigerian mission had details on the affected persons, adding, “the mission is pursuing their cases until compensation is paid.”
More than 1000 people are believed to have died in the stampede although Saudi authorities confirmed put the figure at 769 pilgrims. About 1,000 people were also injured during the stampede on one of the roads leading to the Jamarat complex (stone throwing site) in Mina.
— Oct 12, 2015 @ 12:15 GMT