Nigeria says 54 citizens died in haj stampede

Abuja, Sep 28 (IANS) Nigerian authorities on Monday said 54 citizens of the West African country died in the haj stampede last Thursday in Saudi Arabia.

In a statement, chairman of the National Haj Commission of Nigeria Abdullahi Mukhtar said 61 Nigerian pilgrims also sustained injuries in the incident.

Among the deceased Nigerian pilgrims, 42 were transported to Saudi Arabia by provincial pilgrims’ welfare agencies while a dozen others embarked on the pilgrimage through private tour operators, Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying.

The deceased pilgrims came from 15 states across Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the official said.

On Saturday, the country also started a headcount of its citizens who went on holy pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to determine the number of pilgrims involved in the fatal incident.

An investigation is also underway to ascertain the number of Nigerian pilgrims still missing in Mina. A total of 769 pilgrims died in the incident, according to Saudi Arabian authorities.

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