Six Nigerians are reportedly among those who died in the crane accident that occurred at the holy mosque of Ka’aba in Mecca on Friday.
They were said to be four women and two men, while three others are receiving treatment from injuries they sustained when a building crane collapsed on the pilgrims.
At least 103 people were reportedly killed while over 200 people were injured.
Chairman of the the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Alhaji Abdullahi Mukhtar, stated that reports reaching him indicated that “three persons were injured, and the Saudi Arabian government has also confirmed that six Nigerians have also died.”
Mukhtar said four of the deceased were female from Gombe state, one each from Kaduna and Katsina states.
Meanwhile, a former governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, has recounted how he narrowly escaped the accident.
Bafarawa told the BBC Hausa service yesterday that he was standing when the crane came down.
He said: “I had finished doing Dawaf (circumbulation of the Ka’aba) when I heard something fall on my back, which was a block. I fell, then got up and rushed out of the place and also saw blood scattered on my body from the behind.”
Bafarawa said he was treated and is now doing fine.
“The blood was not from my body, but it was that of other people,” he said.
“People should not be blaming the Saudi authorities because it was a predestined calamity,” he added.
The former governor also said: “I thank Allah that I have even attended the mosque, and I have no serious injury except the pain I am feeling on my back.”
The NAHCON had earlier said no Nigerian was killed in the incident, but three persons sustained injuries.
In a related development, the commission has said it has airlifted 55,970 pilgrims out of the 66,000 billed to perform this year’s Hajj exercise in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Chairman of the commission, Abdullahi Mukhtar, who disclosed , said the pilgrims were airlifted in 143 flights.
He said the commission was determined to ensure that the remaining prospective pilgrims are airlifted to the Holy Land before the September 18 deadline set by the Saudi authorities.
Mukhtar also disclosed that three Nigerian pilgrims sustained minor injuries in the crane crash at the Grand Mosque.
He said the medical team assembled by the commission and the officials of Saudi Arabia are still trying to ascertain the exact number of casualties.
According to him, the commission has advised officials of state pilgrims’ welfare boards not to allow their pilgrims to go close to the Grand Mosque for now, adding that the directive is being “strictly adhered to and it is yielding positive results.”