A stampede survivor's tale: 'I was pinned down'

By AFP
Published: September 27, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

MAKKAH: Hamza Musa Kabir from Kano in northern Nigeria survived the massive stampede at the Hajj by shedding his pilgrim’s garment after he was pinned under a man in the crush, which killed 769 people.

Reflecting on the shocking events that unfolded on Thursday in Saudi Arabia, the 55-year-old tall, thin trader told his dramatic story to AFP’s Kano correspondent Aminu Abubakar, who also performed the pilgrimage:

“We set off at sunrise from Muzdalifah and marched towards the Jamarat,” the place in Mina where pilgrims ritually stone the devil, Kabir recounted.

Read: Saudi prince’s convoy triggered Hajj stampede: report

“We were more than halfway through the procession when the road was blocked by the police, which led to buildup (of pilgrims).

“Then the police blocked all the roads, leaving us with only one route. The situation became worse when the police allowed people returning from the Jamarat to use the same route back to their tents” where the pilgrims stay.

“From where I stood, I could see a police officer on a raised platform at a nearby control post beckoning at pilgrims returning that they should move on.

“Because those returning were moving in the opposite (direction) of the surging crowd, there was a stampede.

“People became weak from suffocation and heat. People couldn’t breathe (in the crush). Many collapsed, mostly women and the old and disabled on wheelchairs.

“I also was pinned down by this huge man I believe to be an Asian. I had to strip myself of my shroud which had become an obstacle to my escape.

“I raised my hand and grabbed the shroud of another pilgrim from Nigeria who was already standing on a fence. He couldn’t pull me up because I was pinned down by this huge man.”

Read: Death toll in hajj crush rises to 769: Saudi health minister

“I used one hand to reach for the metal bar of the fence, and grab it. I then pulled myself up with the help of another young Arab man who was standing on the fence,” reaching safety inside one of the camps where Kabir then passed out.

“I was so dizzy and weak and too weak to walk. I was spread on the floor and another pilgrim, seeing that I had regained consciousness, offered me his other shroud.

“People offered me drink and some food. I then realised that I had been bitten (on) the side, by a young man from underneath.

Kabir lost his backpack and most of his belongings except for a small bag around his neck.

“I spent, like, two hours sitting down recuperating,” he said.

“After that, I was assisted by another pilgrim from Niger to make it to the Jamarat and carry out the stoning rites.

“What I saw on my return to the scene of the stampede frightened me, because I just saw countless bodies lying on the floor covered in white shrouds, and I knew I could have been one of them.”

Still, he is not too frightened to return.

“I know I will not die until the appointed hour…. Hajj is very important to my faith, and no obstacles will discourage me from seizing another opportunity to come back.”

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Reader Comments (24)

  • komal s
    Sep 27, 2015 - 5:33PM

    Looks like Iran is right. Saudis unfortunately are never going to say the truth.Recommend

  • Sep 27, 2015 - 8:19PM

    Saudi and our government are covering story to help each other…Recommend

  • IGK
    Sep 27, 2015 - 9:34PM

    Iran is right in demanding an apology from Saudis. They better respect Hajis & not treat them like their own citizens who have no voice Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 27, 2015 - 11:47PM

    cover up by Saudies.. meaning they can repeat the same mistake again..Recommend

  • UQ
    Sep 28, 2015 - 12:41AM

    The video shows that a barricade was broken by the sea of Haji’s. The police kept stopping them but thousands ran and collision happened. I feel it was out of the hands of Saudi police. They do a great job of Handling 5Million people, no country in the world has the capicity to handle such a crowd. It was a very sad incident but not Saudi government fault. Recommend

  • Thinker
    Sep 28, 2015 - 2:03AM

    This could be a fake sorry to support Iran’s claimRecommend

  • Christina
    Sep 28, 2015 - 2:39AM

    If Crminals in Saudia Arabia have gone so low as to kill many children , women and old children by blocking roads to service their VIPS its time that Muslims take over the holy lands .Recommend

  • muhammad shehwar
    Sep 28, 2015 - 3:33AM

    why did the use the same route for going in and out, that’s seriously negligence of saudi government which doesn’t want to put it on themselves?Recommend

  • HAH
    Sep 28, 2015 - 5:38AM

    KSA is pure filth – like the jews they consider themselves as God’s chosen people. aakhthooRecommend

  • Sab
    Sep 28, 2015 - 6:17AM

    We should boycott Hajj at least for 1 or 2 yrs so these Saudis should realize that human lives does matter and that they are not gods just because they have moneyRecommend

  • Iqbal Hadi Zaidi
    Sep 28, 2015 - 9:08AM

    I suggest that 2 hajis from each country who were very much there when the tragedy struck be invited to tell us as to how it started and what measures they took to save their lives when hundreds lost their lives. I am pretty confident that the gist would be the same though words and expressions will certainly cannot be the same. Initially it was not just thought but proclaimed from certain quarters that the hajis themselves are responsible to cause stampede but then some are accusing Saudia for it which is quite conflicting to be honest and therefore we must gather information from eye witnesses to know exactly what is the main cause so that it can be avoided in future. Mere blame game will lead us to more confusion which must be avoided in any case. Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait / zaidi.x.diplomat@hotmail.comRecommend

  • Sep 28, 2015 - 9:45AM

    @komal s:
    In fact Iranians made all this mess when they instead of using the exit route to return to their camp after stonning jamarat ,returned on the same route disregarding the instructions issued in this regard. Inside the camps its the group leaders who control their people and police does that only in Jamarat area. This incidence took place inside the camp in Mina on street 223.The iranian group leader shouldn’t have brought his group by using the route used for going to Jamarat. Iranian are propagating in a way where people would think like it happened in Jamarat area where as the incidence took place inside the camp in Mina. Initially they said it was saudi police ,next day they came out with a funny story that it was the prince and now they are circulating 1970 photos of garbage collection after haj with a caption that saudi is dumping dead bodies with buldozers. One would wonder that how many lies they have to manufacture in their Iranian lie factories.Recommend

  • Sarah
    Sep 28, 2015 - 9:57AM

    Hajj should be allowed to be performed throughout the year and not once. This is the only solution if muslims are ready to reform and evolve.Recommend

  • S
    Sep 28, 2015 - 10:00AM

    @UQ:
    This incident has not happened for the first time. It happens every year, only the scale is bigger this time. Clearly, SA is unable to handle 5 million crowd. They need to set a limit and allow no more than 1 million people to perform Hajj at one time.Recommend

  • we should wait for inquiry report of saudi and also other quartets.
    Sep 28, 2015 - 12:19PM

    We should wait for Recommend

  • Mamu
    Sep 28, 2015 - 3:35PM

    We should wait for the report with proof. Saudi King suspended the Construction company also when the crane fell. So it is expected that justice will be done. On the other hand, Iran will always cry due to the religious differences. Recommend

  • Raheel
    Sep 28, 2015 - 3:37PM

    @Sab:
    Are you out of your mind or you wantt Iran to take control???Recommend

  • Raza
    Sep 28, 2015 - 4:39PM

    @Sarah:
    Sister? Hajj should be done throughout the year? :P I feel sorry for your Islamic knowledge. Hajj can ONLY be performed in the month of Zilhij. Umrah is what can be performed in other months throughout the year.Recommend

  • Aamir
    Sep 28, 2015 - 7:38PM

    @UQ:

    Iraq handles 20 million people each year in the month of Muharam for Ashura and Arbaeen.
    Just google it my friend. My point it Saudis need to learn to include muslim umma along, not just be ignorant and plan everything themselves.Recommend

  • ND
    Sep 29, 2015 - 1:56AM

    @Sarah:
    That has to be the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day! LollRecommend

  • UQ
    Sep 29, 2015 - 4:03AM

    Aamir: which other countries does Iraq include in the planning and implementation process of the security of the event ?Recommend

  • UQ
    Sep 29, 2015 - 4:04AM

    Aamir: which other countries does Iraq include in the planning and implementation process of the security of the event ?Recommend

  • UQ
    Sep 29, 2015 - 4:04AM

    Aamir: which other countries does Iraq include in the planning and implementation process of the security of the event ?Recommend

  • Imran
    Sep 29, 2015 - 12:35PM

    @Sarah:
    Few things could not be reformed. pls read and understand diff b/w hajj n umrah :)Recommend

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