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Mecca Tragedy: Hajj Death Toll Hits 274

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), on Monday, put the number of Nigerians that lost their lives in the stampede which occurred during this year’s hajj, at 274.

NAHCON Commissioner of Planning, Research Statistic Information and Library Service (PRSILS), Saleh Okenwa, stating this in Abuja, said that Forty four others are still missing while two are receiving treatment in Saudi hospitals.

Okenwa expressed that the agency remains determined to continue to work with relevant stakeholders to account for the remaining pilgrims that died in the stampede.

He said, “The number of Nigerians confirmed dead in the stampede is 274; those injured and on admission in Jeddah are two, while 44 remain officially declared missing.

“This was a year that the Saudi Arabia government did their best to ensure the success of the Hajj exercise and safety of pilgrims, but Allah decreed that this will happen.”

According to him, the Saudi Arabian Government had not responded to Nigeria’s request to be part of its committee set up to probe the incident.

On his own part, chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed, said it is the prerogative of the Saudi Government to decide the composition of the committee investigating the stampede.

He also stated that Nigeria had not received any compensation pledged by Saudi Arabia for the victims of the Sept. 11 crane crash at the precinct of Ka’aba (the Grand Holy Mosque in Mecca).

The Head of NAHCON medical team, Dr Ibrahim Kana, said efforts were being made to find the 44 missing Nigerians using the DNA samples of their family members, adding that the sample would be collected and sent to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for cross matching of the 44 missing Nigerians.