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page 4 wed Saudi Hajj tragedy 244 Nigerians missing, 64 dead, 71 injured From Abbas Jimoh, Saudi Arabia The number of Nigerians who died in…

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Saudi Hajj tragedy

244 Nigerians missing, 64 dead, 71 injured

From Abbas Jimoh, Saudi Arabia

The number of Nigerians who died in last Thursday’s stampede at the Jamarat (symbolic stoning of the devil) in Mina, Saudi Arabia, has risen to 64 with 71 others sustaining injuries while 244 are still missing.

Spokesman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Mallam Uba Mana, told newsmen yesterday in Makkah that the commission was doing all within its powers to locate the whereabouts of those still missing.

“We have 64 Nigerians dead from the stampede, 71 injured and 244 still missing. Out of those that died, 48 are from the state Pilgrims Welfare Boards and 12 from tour operators. The 226 missing are from state pilgrims boards and 18 from tour operators.

“We have set up various committees to track those missing and we are not limiting the search to Makkah, Mina or Madinah but the whole of Saudi Arabia as helicopters were used to airlift victims to the nearest hospitals with several hospitals used,” Mana said.

He said the missing pilgrims are from Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ekiti, FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Kwara States.

Others are from Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.

While noting that some of the dead pilgrims had been buried in Makkah, he added that if the family of any of the victims intends to have the body of their loved ones sent back to Nigeria, it would be at the expense of the family.

He said: “The commission will do all that is humanly possible to assist families of the dead get befitting burials for their loved ones but if they intend to have the body sent home, I don’t think the Saudi authorities will pick the bills.”

He however said the commission would not rush to declare the missing pilgrims dead as several committees had been constituted to search for them by combing the whole of Saudi Arabia.

Foreign officials question Saudi death toll

Officials from several countries have said that more than 1,000 people died in last week’s stampede. The last figure given by the Saudi authorities was 769.

However, a Nigerian official told the BBC that more than 1,000 bodies had been taken from the disaster site to morgues in the city of Jeddah.

Indian, Pakistani and Indonesian officials have also been quoted as saying they think more than 1,000 died.

A Nigerian Hajj official from Kano, Abba Yakubu, told the BBC that he had been to Jeddah, where the dead from Thursday’s crush are being processed.

Mr Yakubu said that in total, 14 lorries loaded with bodies were brought to the city.

He added that so far 1,075 bodies had been offloaded from 10 lorries and taken into the morgues. Four lorries had yet to be dealt with, he said.

Several countries have been severely critical of the way the Saudi authorities have handled the accident’s aftermath, notably Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, which lost at least 228 people in the disaster.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that Saudi authorities had released photos of 1,090 pilgrims who died. Pakistani and Indonesian officials have also indicated that they have been sent more than 1,000 such images.

As yet the Saudi authorities have not explained the discrepancy in the figures.

Thursday’s stampede was the deadliest incident to hit the Hajj in 25 years.

The country’s most senior cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin-Abdullah al-Sheikh, has defended the authorities, saying the stampede was “beyond human control”.

King Salman has ordered a safety review into the disaster.

Illela LG records 81 loses

From Abubakar Auwal, Sokoto

Illela LGA of Sokoto State lost 81 pilgrims in last Thursday’s stampede in SAUDI Arabia, though the official figure released by the state government put the casualty from the state at nine.

An official of the local government area who sought anonymity said this was confirmed by the Assistant Hajj Registration Officer (ARO).

He said the area recorded the highest number of deaths in the country because the stampede occurred when it was their turn to perform the stoning rite. He said 55 of the deceased were females.

According to him, Araba village alone has lost 10 pilgrims, Amarawa lost seven while Hamma village lost six, including the former chairman, his younger brother and two of his three wives as well as his aunt and step mother.

He added that Illela town was worst hit as it lost more than 60 pilgrims.

“That was why Sallah celebration was low keyed because the whole area has been thrown into mourning, as there was no family that was not affected,” he said.

Speaking to Daily Trust, father of the late chairman, Alhaji Muhammadu Sarki, disputed the official figure, saying he alone lost six members of his family and there are other households in the area who recorded loses too.

Senate to constitute committee on stampede

By Ismail Mudashir

The Senate yesterday resolved to constitute a committee to examine the stampede in Saudi Arabia.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah and Senator Kabiru Marafa.

The senate also ordered the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to liaise with the Saudi Arabian authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that Nigerian victims are given adequate medical attention.

No Nasarawa pilgrim died -Sen Adamu

From Abbas Jimoh, Saudi Arabia

Former governor of Nasarawa State and Ameerul hajj (leader of delegation) of the state to this year’s pilgrimage, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has denied that an unspecified number of pilgrims from the state died in last Thursday’s stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

He told reporters yesterday in Makkah that contrary to reports the state only recorded two deaths from natural causes but not the stampede.

“We mourn our brothers and sisters in the stampede and commiserate with their families, Nigerians and the Muslim world. We did not lose any pilgrim in the unfortunate incident so the reports to that effect is misleading and should be ignored”, he said.

3 dead, one, missing from Niger

From Ahmed Tahir Ajobe, Minna

Niger State Pilgrims Welfare Commission yesterday says its accountant general, Alhaji Shehu Kagara, is missing since the stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

It confirmed that pilgrims from Suleja, Halilu Abubakar, a 75 year old from Lapai Shehu Nmabakun and Barrister Isah Abubakar from Bida LGA were among those who died.

The message by the Amirul Hajj through the Head of Media Team of the Amirul and the Chairman of Niger State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ, Alhaji Mohammed Mohammed said the accountant general had not been seen for three days now.

Kaduna declares 6 missing

From Andrew Agbese, Kaduna

Six out of the 5,710 pilgrims from Kaduna State have been declared missing, head of the media team of Kaduna State 2015 Hajj, Alhaji Ibraheem Musa, has said.

Musa who spoke with our correspondent on phone from Makka, Saudi Arabia, said though it was too early to release the names of the persons not yet seen, he could confirm that five males and a female pilgrim were missing.