At least 26 Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims have so far been confirmed dead in the September 24 stampede in Saudi Arabia's Mina, the foreign ministry said yesterday amid fears that the number may rise.
“Of the 26 pilgrims, names of 13 have been found,” said a ministry statement, quoting the latest report that it had received from the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh.
However, AKM Shahidul Karim, consul general of the Bangladesh consulate in Jeddah, last night said the death toll was 28.
He said they would disclose the identities of the Bangladeshis “after further verification.”
He also said another 138 Bangladeshi pilgrims have been missing since the stampede.
“Those who are missing may be injured. They have not been reported dead. But they are not in touch with their families or relatives,” he told The Daily Star over phone.
According to the foreign ministry statement, bodies of the 26 dead Bangladeshi pilgrims were kept at the central mortuary in Makkah.
Besides, 33 other Bangladeshi victims of the stampede were undergoing treatment at different hospitals in Saudi Arabia, it added.
Meanwhile, the BBC yesterday reported that a Nigerian official said more than 1,000 bodies had been taken from the disaster site to morgues in the city of Jeddah.
Indian, Pakistani and Indonesian officials were also quoted as saying they think more than 1,000 had died.
The Saudi authorities say 769 died in the crush and insist the higher figure is for all deaths at this year's Hajj.
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that the Saudi authorities had released photos of 1,090 pilgrims who died. Pakistani and Indonesian officials have also indicated that they have been sent more than 1,000 such images.
But the Saudi authorities say this number includes 109 people who died at the Grand Mosque when a crane collapsed on September 11 and all other deaths at this year's pilgrimage, some of them from natural causes, the BBC added.
The Saudi authorities so far displayed 1,100 photos of the dead at a mortuary, but many of them died of heatstroke and other natural causes during the Hajj, said the Arab News, a local newspaper.
Yesterday's Bangladesh foreign ministry statement also said: “The Saudi authorities are yet to release photos of all bodies of the victims of the Mina incident. They would release more photos and particulars of dead bodies for identification soon.”
“Relatives, accompanying pilgrims and Hajj agents of the missing pilgrims have been requested to contact the Bangladesh Hajj Mission in Makkah [Room no 107, phone- 00966-(0)125413980, firstname.lastname@example.org].”
Officials of the Bangladesh consulate in Jeddah along with the officials of the Bangladesh Hajj Mission in Makkah and the medical and administrative teams for Hajj are working to identify the bodies of the pilgrims.
Bangladesh Hajj Mission's Counselor Asaduzzaman, who is in Makkah, told The Daily Star over phone that relatives of the missing pilgrims were visiting the central mortuary in the city to identify the bodies.
“The bodies will not be buried until they are identified,” he said.
Asaduzzaman said bringing back any pilgrims' body to Bangladesh may take “some time” as it required “certain procedures”.
Also, relatives can visit Saudi Arabia to see the bodies if they get visas.
“But, during the Hajj season, the Saudi embassy usually does not issue tourist visas, but under some special circumstances, it may,” he added.