The National Youth Service Corps has contacted the families of 100 corps members, who participated in this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia, where about 99 Nigerians have been confirmed dead in a stampede in Mina.
The decision followed apprehension by family members since the stampede took place.
The NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations, Mrs. Bose Aderibigbe, who spoke with the Punch in an interview, said, “We have started contacting their next-of-kin to let us know what is happening. So far, they have not told us anyone was missing.
“About 100 corps members got permission from us to go (for Hajj) and we have contacted their next-of-kin to find out whether they are in link with them. We have contacted our various states to contact their next-of-kin on the phone.
“The management of NYSC has compiled a list of those who applied and sent to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria; until the reply comes that we can know. Also, their next-of-kin have been contacted. No one has gotten back to us that their wards were involved.”
According to reports by the Punch, NAHCON had on Thursday confirmed the death of 99 Nigerian pilgrims, 42 injured and 214 others missing in the September 24 stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia.
The confirmation came as a road traffic expert, Alhaji Babatunde Adewumi, suggested that NAHCON should engage the services of trained and qualified traffic controllers to help in the management of crowd in the subsequent Hajj exercise.
The agency’s Commissioner (Planning, Research, Statistic Information and Library Service), Dr. Saleh Okenwa, gave the casualty figure in an interview with journalists in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
According to him, the total number of Nigerians affected in the incident was 355 as of the time of filling this report.
Okenwa, however, insisted that those missing could not be declared dead since identification of those affected was still being collated by the Saudi Arabia health authorities in conjunction with Nigerian and other health officials.
He also gave the breakdown of the victims as 73 deaths from the state pilgrim welfare boards, agencies and commissions, while the remaining 26 were from the tour operators.
“Those injured were 42, 41 from the state pilgrims and one from tour operators. The number of those missing from the states was 96 males, 94 females and four males who were officials, totaling 194, while 10 males and 10 females were missing from the tour operators.
“Of those injured, only seven remain in the hospitals on admission and receiving treatments and others were discharged,” Okenwa said.
When prodded on the fate of the people missing and if there were hope that they could be found alive, he said, “In the early days, people expressed hope but the hope is waning. We cannot declare those missing as dead since there is no evidence to state that.”