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Mecca crane collapse: Nigerian survivors recount tragedy

Shafiu Yusuf Baban Ya’u, ,37, from Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, while describing his ordeal during last Friday’s tragic crane collapse at…

Shafiu Yusuf Baban Ya’u, ,37, from Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, while describing his ordeal during last Friday’s tragic crane collapse at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, said he witnessed many deaths. One of the people who died is an Arab man, who just before the tragedy, hugged him for allowing him a prayer space behind. “Three minutes after he sat behind me, thunder struck and a hurtling stone hit me on the fore head. I looked back and saw that the same man who hugged me in bloody pieces.”
Baban Ya’u said his fellow supplicant’s death was devastating. “I could not sleep for days and my blood pressure went up, that I had to be hospitalised,” he said. “I pray that Allah grants them paradise,” Baban Ya’u said.
Another Nigerian injured during the tragedy, Shehu Ibrahim Hunkuyi, from Kauru LGA of Kaduna State, said when the rain started getting heavy, they moved under a shelter close to the collapsed crane when they heard the first and second thunderclap. “The second one heralded the collapse and I could clearly see the heavy-chained crane hook swing into the Ka’aba arena, sweeping many unsuspecting worshipers to their deaths within seconds. Many died,” he said.
Ibrahim added: “In fact, I escaped death by whiskers because the man who died from Kaduna State was in the same shelter with me. Unfortunately, we ran to opposite directions when we heard the first thunderclap. I only sustained minor injuries on my chest and thigh from a large chunk of concrete that hit me.”
Daily Trust was not allowed access to the female pilgrim on admission at Faisal Hospital where Gombe Pilgrim officials assigned an Ambulance and an escort that took our correspondent there. Leader of the Gombe Medical team, Dr. Adamu Bojude, who was said to be the person to grant access, was unavailable. “I’m attending a meeting somewhere in town. Please contact the Amirul Hajj Grand Khadi Maikano, who has custody of the patient,” Dr. Bojude said.
One Kaduna State pilgrim was confirmed to be among the 107 killed. Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Task Force on Hajj, Hon. Saidu Adamu on Sunday in Mecca, said “NAHCON has confirmed the death of one  Alhaji Adamu Shuaibu Kargi from Kubau Local Government Area of Kaduna State.”
Authorities in Saudi Arabia had earlier on Saturday confirmed that 107 people died in the tragedy. Ahmad Al-Mansouri, the spokesperson for the Presidency on the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said at least 107 people were dead and another 238 were injured.
NAHCON in a press briefing in Nigeria said six Nigerians were confirmed to be among the dead, one male from Kaduna, four females from Gombe and one male from Katsina. The Nigerian Consulate, by the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday night paid condolence visits.
The Ambassador to Nigeria in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Ahmed Umar in an interview with newsmen shortly after delivering the president’s message, said: “The president is very sad over the incident and has instructed the consulate to urgently deliver his condolences.” He also stated that Saudi authorities are taking all necessary measures first of all to know what actually happened in order to avoid recurrence.
Ambassador Umar called on Nigerians to pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased and their families the fortitude to bear the loss.
The Chairman/CEO NAHCON, Barr Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammed who was represented by NAHCON Co-ordinator Makkah, Suleiman Usman, while commending Nigerian pilgrims for participating in the rescue operation, called on them to always carry their Identity cards and wear their hand bands for easy identification. “We were only able to identify the deceased Nigerian man by his uniform, because at the time he was not carrying his identity card or wristband.”

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