The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Sunday, said the death toll of Nigerians who were killed in the September 24 stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia has increased to 145.
You will recall that last week, the death toll of those who lost their life’s during the stampede was placed at 99, with 42 injured and 214 others missing.
NAHCON’s Commissioner in charge of Planning, Research, Information and Library Services, Dr Saleh Okenwa, speaking during a joint news conference of the commission’s top management with the Chargé d’Affaires, Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh, Ambassador Tijjani Hammanjoda and the Nigerian Consul-General to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Ahmed Umar, declared 35 people injured and 165 others still missing,The number of those missing, had reduced to165, following the discovery of additional bodies of some Nigerians killed in the stampede.
On the transportation of pilgrims back to Nigeria, NAHCON’s Commissioner in charge of Operation, Dr Saleh Modibbo, said more than 60 per cent of the pilgrims had been transported back to the country.
He noted that out of the 76,000 Nigerians who performed the pilgrimage, 40,850 had been safely transported back to the country.
He said 29 of the 145 that died were from the tour operators. Nineteen were males and 10 were females, adding that one person was injured and 21 of those missing were also from the tour operators.
He said, “Those declared missing cannot be declared dead, since their corpses have not been identified and there are ongoing efforts to located them or identify their remains among the dead.”
Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, assured that 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.
Also speaking to newsmen, Chairman of Medical Committee Dr. Ibrahim Kana said autopsies were being performed on some of the corpses, in order to ascertain the cause of their deaths.
He added that while the DNA matchings have been done for some of the immediate families of the victims in the holy land for identification, the medical team was still working on ensuring that families of the victims in Nigeria can travel to Saudi Arabia or submit their blood sample for matching.
Kana said that some of the families of those that died have received the death certificates of their loved ones.