The death toll of Nigerian pilgrims in the Saudi Arabia stampede has risen from 54 to 64, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) said on Tuesday.
Also, the number of injured Nigerians was put at 71.
But 244 Nigerian pilgrims from 19 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), were still missing as at Tuesday.
The latest figures came on the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the commission to account for every Nigerian that traveled to the holy land for pilgrimage. The president had expressed displeasure with the conflicting figures given by the Hajj Commission on the number of casualties.
Addressing a press briefing on Tuesday in Makkah, the Head of Media and Publicity of NAHCON, Alh. Uba Mana, said one of those missing was an official of NAHCON.
The states with records of missing pilgrims are: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ekiti, FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Kwara.
Others are – Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
Mana said, “We cannot declare missing Nigerians dead because you cannot confirm someone dead without the corpse.
“And because during the stampede, helicopters came around picking victims and taking them to hospitals, we have decided to extend our search to all hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“On missing Nigerians, Kaduna all along said they had no missing pilgrims. But by yesterday, they called and said they cannot find six of their pilgrims.
“So the figure keeps changing, it may increase or decrease. The number of those injured has decreased because some of them have been treated and discharged”.
Another controversy arose, however, when a former Governor of Nasarawa State and Amirul Hajj of the state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, denied that some pilgrims from the state died in last Thursday’s Jamarat stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia.
Abdullahi, who spoke with newsmen in Makkah, said contrary to reports, the state only recorded two deaths from natural cause.