Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


'We can't find him' - lament of pilgrims after hajj disaster

26 September 2015, 17:13

Mina - We can't find him" was the lament of anxious relatives and friends Saturday as they scoured hospital wards and the morgue, two days after the disaster at the hajj.

Those killed have yet to be identified after Thursday's crush in Mina, near the Saudi city of Mecca, during the "stoning of the devil" ritual at the annual pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites.

The official casualty toll among the two million pilgrims from around the world stands at 717 dead and more than 800 wounded.

Frustrated families have been left with the painful task of trying to find out for themselves whether loved ones are dead or alive.

"They say they don't have his name registered," an agitated Egyptian pilgrim said after arguing with reception staff at Mina Emergency Hospital.

The pilgrim, who gave his name only as Abdullah, said he was searching for his 36-year-old neighbour.

"I've been going around hospitals but couldn't find him. They told me go to the morgue," said Abdullah.

"We can't find him, neither among the wounded nor among the dead."

Searching morgues

Leaving the hospital was another Egyptian, looking for a fellow pilgrim who was staying in the same part of Mina's tent city used for the hajj.

"I don't have the nerves to talk," he said. "His wife is breaking down at the camp. She didn't even perform the hajj rituals."

Upstairs, another man, Tareq, went from room to room seeking the wife of a fellow pilgrim.

"Her husband is at the camp and couldn't look for himself, he's in such a state of shock. We are helping him," said the Egyptian, rushing from internal medicine to the surgical ward.

Rushing up and down the stairs, Mohammed Bilal, also Egyptian, looked in vain for a friend's 60-year-old mother, whose phone has been switched off since the disaster.

"The first thing we did was go check if she's among the dead in Muaisem, but we found nothing," he said, referring to an area near Mina where the morgue is located.

"We then began going from hospital to hospital."

'She's not there'

On his tour of hospitals, Bilal, aged 35, showed staff the woman's picture on his mobile phone.

"I have her name and picture. I went to the information desk. They said she's not here.... I went up to search for her in the intensive care unit and other rooms," he said.

At the information desk, a frustrated black-clad Saudi woman, who was with her husband, asked about her missing 43-year-old brother.

They had been searching hospitals, floor by floor, to find him, she said, asking not to be named.

"We gave his name and picture to all hospitals," and the family asked relatives in other Saudi cities to also check, in case he had been transferred elsewhere, she said.

Officials referred them to the Muaisem morgue. The brother wasn't there but her husband came out in tears, distraught at the scene he had witnessed.

"We haven't slept or eaten since yesterday as we rush on foot from one hospital to the next," she said.

Hospital manager Ayman al-Yamani said "the identities of some cases in intensive care remain unknown", with many still on respirators.

Translation problems

With countries around the world struggling to draw up a final list of fatalities among their nationals, consular officials have also converged on Mina to try to identify the victims.

The identification process will take "at least another two or three days", a Moroccan diplomatic source told the country's telquel.ma website, adding that Saudi authorities have been provided with fingerprints.

Moroccan media have reported 87 of the North African state's nationals among the dead.

Iran said Saturday it lost at least 136 of its nationals in the hajj - the highest tally so far from outside Saudi Arabia - and that 344 others were still unaccounted for.

Yamani, the hospital manager, said the Saudi health ministry has set up a hotline to locate the missing, although many friends and relatives said it was of no help.

He said translators for six languages were among the staff, but hospital workers still appeared to have difficulties communicating with the pilgrims.

In one room, a Saudi nurse was seen resorting to sign language with an elderly Indian man with stitches on the forehead complaining he was unwell.



Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...