SURVIVORS from the recent stampeded in Saudi Arabia have revealed that local authorities ignored black pilgrims and concentrated on rescuing while and Caucasian victims which resulted in a high casualty rate among Africans.
About 800 people were killed in a stampede in Mecca, Saudi Arabia last Thursday when a tunnel collapsed as Muslim pilgrims were walking through a runnel during the annual hajj pilgrimage. Some estimates have put the death toll at 1,100 and at least 54 Nigerian casualties were reported among the dead.
One of the fortunate Nigerian survivors revealed that paramedics who came to rescue victims were racially favoured to whites over blacks. An indigene of Osun State Nigeria but based in Warri in Delta State, the survivor said he was stuck in the midst of dead bodies for more than two hours but there was no help from paramedics, who favoured whites over blacks.
“I tried to escape but it was impossible as I was stuck in the midst of many dead bodies and some people were climbing over me to find an escape. I struggled to get myself up to the waist level.
“From my toe to my waistline, people were all over and I could not get up. I was calling the Saudi police and paramedics on the scene to help me but they didn’t respond and I was stuck there for more than two hours as they were busy helping whites, with no response to my plea,” the victim added.
According to the pilgrims, the Saudi paramedics left black people and were carrying whites. He added that while waiting for help, other pilgrims helped him and some others by pouring cold water on them to prevent dehydration.
“One pilgrim threw his phone to me, so I could place a call to anybody who could be of help and the phone fell on a dead body, so I picked it up but there was no one to call. And I couldn’t have called Nigeria,” the victim said.
He pointed out that after hours without help, he eventually passed out but woke up to find himself at a hospital in Arafat. It was there that he was fed and dressed up in an environment where there were other Nigerians.
Saudi authorities have blamed black Africans for the stampede, claiming they refused to follow protocol. This, has, however, been strongly condemned by the Nigerian authorities, who blame the accident on poor logistics.