The number of Nigerians killed in last month’s deadly stampede at the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia has risen to 173 after some of those deemed missing were identified as among the bodies. The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria said Sunday six Nigerians remain in hospitals for treatment, and there are still 137 missing, the Daily Trust reported.
Sokoto topped the list of states with the highest casualties from the West African country, with a majority being women and girls, a commission official told the Daily Trust. Nigeria has one of the largest Muslim populations in West Africa. Nigerian Muslims are predominately Sunni, with Shiite Muslims primarily in Sokoto state. The northern state has the highest population of Muslims in Nigeria at nearly 99 percent. Those still missing are feared dead but not yet identified among the hundreds of bodies at hospital morgues in Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of pilgrims were killed during a stampede in Mina near the holy city of Mecca Sept. 24, the first day of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, which marks the end of hajj. Saudi Arabia received around 2 million pilgrims from more than 180 countries this year for the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a religious duty for all capable adult Muslims that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime.
The Saudi Health Ministry has kept the official casualty toll at 769 dead and 934 injured despite statements from more than 20 countries that, when added together, put the toll at more than 900 dead.
The disaster has inflamed tensions between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni kingdom regional rival Iran’s Shiite leadership. Iran lost the largest number of pilgrims in the stampede, with 464 Iranians confirmed dead, the New York Times reported.