Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– At least one woman from Jamalpur was found killed in the Mina crush on Thursday as Bangladesh embassy efforts were underway to indentify Bangladeshis among the victims, officials said.
“A 60-year old Bangladeshi woman, Firoza Begum, is so far found to be dead in the stampede . . . until now we can just tell you several Bangladeshis were injured in the crush,” Hajj councilor of Bangladesh embassy in Saudi Arabia M Asaduzzaman told BSS, a state-run news agency, as he was reached here by phone.
He said woman’s son informed the officials of Bangladesh hajj camp in Mina about the death adding that the Saudi authorities took her away along with other bodies from the scene.
The woman hails from Hashchandua village of Jamalpur Sadar upazila while she was being accompanied by her son who identified himself as Khondokar Mazharul Islam.
“We, however, are yet to know anything about the identity of the casualty victim from the Saudi authorities who are trying to identify the dead by their nationality,” Asaduzzaman said.
His comments came as the international media report suggests the stampede toll reached 717 so far and feared the figure to increase further as wounds of many appeared fatal while wounded people were still being rushed to different hospitals in Mina.
Asaduzzaman said Bangladesh embassy officials were trying to find out the Bangladeshis among the injured who were being treated at different facilities in Mina.
“Bangladeshi interpreters have been sent to different Mina hospitals to indentify our nationals . . . we also sent a Bangladeshi medical team to one of the hospitals to offer our assistance in treating the wounded pilgrims . . .,” he said.
Foreign ministry officials in Dhaka, meanwhile, said they await Saudi authorities to identify the Mina stampede victims but feared it might take them at least 48 hours to recognize all the bodies by their national identities.
“It is likely that Bangladeshis could be victim of the casualty . . . we fear the Saudi authorities may require minimum two days to identify all the bodies,” director general of West Asia wing of the foreign office Nazmul Islam told BSS recalling that it took them three days to identify the victims when 117 pilgrims were killed in the crane tragedy in Makkah two weeks ago.
Bangladesh ambassador in Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi earlier told BSS that unconfirmed reports which he received suggested that several Bangladeshis were injured in the stampede and they were being treated at the state-run Mina facility.
“Our first secretary and some other embassy officials are at the hospital entrance but none were allowed inside yet to (know the details) . . . now I am on my way to the facility expecting them to allow me to enter into the hospital,” Moshi said as he was reached in Dhaka by phone.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and other officials of Bangladesh missions therein are in touch with concerned Saudi authorities including hospitals and are continuously engaged in obtaining details of the victims to find if Bangladeshis are among them, a foreign ministry statement said in Dhaka on Thursday night.
“Saudi authorities are yet to confirm and release the identities of the victims,” it noted.
Bangladesh Consulate General in Jeddah has opened hot-lines, which are 00966(0)537375859 and 00966(0)509360082. Hajjis, their companions and relatives, hajj guides and agents are requested to report about missing hajjis over these numbers.