SAUDI Arabian authorities have confirmed that six Nigerians are among the 244 people who have been confirmed dead following the collapse of a crane on the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca. According to the Saudi civil defence authority a huge red crane crashed through the mosque's roof on Friday while maintenance works were being carried out during this year's hajj pilgrimage.
Hundreds of thousands of people have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia from all over the world for the hajj and they are due to visit Mecca later this month. With the identification of the dead underway, six Nigerian pilgrims have been confirmed dead while four have been declared missing. Uba Mana, a spokesperson for National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, confirmed the death of the six Nigerians, adding that they will all be buried in Saudi Arabia according to Muslim rites.
Mr Mana said: “There are six Nigerians that lost their lives and in Islam, you don’t bring corpses back home. You bury them where they died, so preparations are on the way for their burial as I speak with you now but I’m sure they will be buried in Saudi Arabia.” Four female pilgrims from Gombe State had been declared missing following the crash and one other female pilgrim got injured during the incident. Alhaji Abdullahi Mai-Kano, the Gombe State Amirul-Hajj, said that the four pilgrims were from Akko, Dukku and Nafada local governments areas of the state.
He said the other faithful sustained injury on her head but had been treated and discharged. However, the four pilgrims were declared missing after a thorough verification and bed checking in the three houses accommodating the state pilgrims. Mr Mana added: “The incident won’t affect pilgrimage because airlifting is ongoing and we have already airlifted over 80% of our pilgrims. We don’t intend to stop and people are not scared but we have told our people to be cautious and observe what to do to protect themselves.”
While an investigative committee was said to have commenced searching for the cause of the collapse of the crane, a former head of Mecca’s religious police, Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghandi, was said to have attributed the accident to an act of God. Meanwhile, members of the Nigerian rmed forces on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia were said to have extended medical treatment to other Nigerian pilgrims in Mecca.