By Alex Agbo in Abuja
It’s official! Nigeria’s death toll in this year stampede on the way to the stoning of the Jamrat (devil) has risen to 222, with another 130 pilgrims still missing.
Some of the missing pilgrims may have also died.
An official of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, (NAHCON), Dr. Ibrahim Kana, told journalists in Abuja on Monday that after reconciliation it has now been confirmed that 222 Nigerians actually died.
There have been conflicting reports on the number of deaths but with this clarification, issues surrounding the number of those who died in the September 24 stampede may have been laid to rest.
Kana said a majority of those who died had been buried while 130 pilgrims are still missing.
The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, through its Commissioner, Planning and Research, Dr Saleh Okenwa, had earlier put the number at 199, stating that 121 pilgrims were still missing.
At least 717 pilgrims were killed on September 24 in a crush at Mina, outside the Muslim Holy City of Mecca, where two million people were performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities said.
That death figure, according to analysts, may have risen to 1000. Iran still leads the list of those with the heaviest casualties, perhaps followed by Nigeria.
At least 450 others were injured in the stampede, which took place on Street 204 of the camp city at Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca, where pilgrims stay for several days during the climax of the Hajj.