Nige­ria’s death toll rises to 222 ...in Hajj stam­pede up­date

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Ab­bas Ji­moh

The num­ber of Nige­rian pil­grims who died as a re­sult of the Septem­ber 24 stam­pede in Mina, Saudi Ara­bia, has gone up to 222 even as Sokoto and Kano states still top the list of ca­su­al­ties.

An of­fi­cial of the Na­tional Hajj Com­mis­sion of Nige­ria (NAH CON) Dr. Ibrahim Kana, who spoke ex­clu­sively to Daily Trust from Saudi Ara­bia yes­ter­day, said 355 Nige­ri­ans were af­fected in the tragedy.

“By the lat­est fig­ures we have so far iden­ti­fied 222 bod­ies, 130 miss­ing and three re­cu­per­at­ing in the hospi­tal. We are not leav­ing any stone un­turned un­til we ac­count for all Nige­ri­ans, dead or alive. Ma­jor­ity have been buried in Makkah. We have all the records of graves of Nige­ri­ans. The idea is that we would share this with re­la­tions who may want to visit and pray for them.

“But the DNA anal­y­sis that we would be car­ry­ing out in Nige­ria in the com­ing weeks would pro­vide iden­tity for ev­ery­one. The DNA kits that we col­lected from the Saudi author­ity would be used on re­la­tions back in Nige­ria. The DNA anal­y­sis would be con­ducted in Riyadh and we would go round the coun­try to take blood sam­ples from the vic­tims’ re­la­tion­ships either fa­ther, mother, son or daugh­ter,” Kana, who is the com­mis­sioner in charge of Health for the Hajj 2015, said.

He said two fe­male pil­grims who be­came un­con­scious due to the stam­pede had since re­gained con­scious­ness. Though they were for­merly tagged un­known, they had now been found to come from Kano State, he said.

Kana said that when he spoke with them sep­a­rately at King Ab­dul­lah Med­i­cal City, Mad­i­nah Road, Jed­dah and Heraa Hospi­tal, Makkah, they both said they ab­sconded dur­ing Um­rah (lesser hajj) with one in 2015 and the other over five years ago.

“They are both un­der­go­ing re­nal dial­y­sis but would be dis­charged very soon and de­ported back to Nige­ria. We have duly in­formed the Nige­rian Con­sul Gen­eral in Jed­dah, Am­bas­sador Ahmed Umar, who is mak­ing ef­fort at iden­ti­fy­ing their re­la­tions through the Nige­rian com­mu­nity in the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia,” he said.

He also said that two male vic­tims who had been on ad­mis­sion in Makkah were, in the last flight, ac­com­pa­nied to Nige­ria by doc­tors of the Fed­eral Med­i­cal Team.

He said: “One is a Kwara State pil­grim in­volved in the stam­pede, who re­gained con­scious­ness and was rel­a­tively sta­ble at the point of dis­charge. He would re­quire gov­ern­ment sup­port to con­tinue with his med­i­cal treat­ment in Nige­ria, af­ter the Saudis of­fered gratis to him.”

He how­ever told Daily Trust that the other male pil­grim from the pri­vate tour op­er­a­tor who was left in the An Noor Hospi­tal, Makkah be­fore the med­i­cal team took him to King Ab­du­laziz Hospi­tal, Makkah had con­sented to am­pu­ta­tion of his right up­per arm due to a lifethreat­en­ing in­fec­tion.

He said that there were still two black male pa­tients in King Ab­du­laziz Hospi­tal, Taif and King Ab­dul­lah Med­i­cal City, Mad­i­nah road, Jed­dah, as­sumed to be Nige­ri­ans un­til re­sults of their fin­ger print and DNA were out.

As at 18 Oc­to­ber, the death toll from Nige­ria stood at 199. Sokoto and Kano states lost 79 and 20 pil­grims re­spec­tively. Sokoto also ac­counts for the high­est num­ber of those miss­ing at 59. Both Sokoto and Kano states recorded the high­est fe­male ca­su­alty.

The Com­mis­sioner Plan­ning, Re­search Statis­tic In­for­ma­tion and Li­brary Ser­vice (PRSILS) of NAHCON Dr. Saleh Okenwa told Daily Trust in Makkah that the com­mis­sion had iden­ti­fied the corpses of some vic­tims hith­erto de­clared miss­ing, at the mor­tu­ar­ies in Saudi Hos­pi­tals.

As at Oc­to­ber 21, the death toll from the stam­pede was put at 2097, based on tal­lies by French news AFP. But Saudi Ara­bia has yet to pro­vide an up­dated death toll from the 769 it ear­lier men­tioned.

63,831pil­grims back to Nige­ria

Mean­while, the Na­tional Hajj Com­mis­sion of Nige­ria (NAHCON) has com­pleted the air­lift of 63,831pil­grims back to Nige­ria with 162 flights since Septem­ber 28 when it com­menced re­turn flights.

Nige­ria be­gan the air­lift of pil­grims to the holy land for this year’s pil­grim­age with the in­au­gu­ral flight on Au­gust 23 in Kaduna State.

The last of­fi­cial flight ar­rived Minna, Niger State late Satur­day with 534 pil­grims and of­fi­cials ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial flight sched­ules of the com­mis­sion. The air­lift was com­pleted three days be­fore the Oc­to­ber 27 dead­line the com­mis­sion set for it­self.

It was how­ever learnt that the Chair­man of the com­mis­sion Ab­dul­lahi Mukhtar Mo­hammed, Dr. Ibrahim Kana and other of­fi­cials re­mained be­hind to at­tend to vic­tims of the Septem­ber 24 deadly stam­pede in Mina, Saudi Ara­bia that af­fected 355 Nige­ri­ans.

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