Crane crash: Identifying the dead a difficult task


MAKKAH: As the holy city of Makkah struggled to return to normalcy a day after a deadly crane collapse at the Grand Mosque claimed 107 lives and injured nearly 238 pilgrims, the focus shifted to the difficult and unpleasant task of identifying the dead.
So far, only two pilgrims have been identified from among the dead. They are Moniza Ahmed from West Bengal, India, and MAmeena Ismail from Kerala, India. Both women were identified by Indian Haj Mission personnel in Makkah.
While diplomats from many countries were able to identify the injured, there were few or no reports about the identification of the dead.
The reason was simple. The Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indonesians sent their representatives to the three main hospitals where the injured and the dead were taken immediately after the tragedy. The three hospitals are Al-Noor Specialist Hospital, King Faisal (Al-Shisha) Hospital and Al-Zahir Hospital.
At the hospitals, the representatives of different countries personally spoke to the injured and took down their details and thus, some information about the injured was released. Pakistan released a list of 16 injured, India 19, Bangladesh 40, Indonesia 30, Iran 15 and Malaysia 10.
But what about those who died? Why have they still not been identified? All the injured and the dead were taken to the three hospitals. From there, the dead were moved to a morgue near Mina. It is there in Mina that the faces of the dead will be photographed. Other details from identification badges that the pilgrims were wearing at the time of the tragedy will also be assessed. Once these photographs are released, the foreign consulates will match them with the photos of those who have been listed as missing.
That has not yet been done and so the breakdown of the nationalities of the dead has not been released.
On Saturday, all consulates prepared a list of those who are still missing. The procedure was simple. The consulates have details of all incoming pilgrims and where they are staying in Makkah. Each building where the pilgrims were put up was visited by representatives of the consulates. The names of those who had gone to the Holy Mosque on Friday and had not returned were listed as missing. Those names were then compared and tallied with the list of those on the injured list.
The ones who are not on the list of the injured and who are still missing maybe presumed dead. Once the photographs of the dead are released, it will be easier to identify the victims and then the burials can take place.
Almost all pilgrims have a metallic wrist band that they should wear at all times. These metallic bands have the names of their buildings and the identities of their Haj guides. It has, however, been noticed in the past that all pilgrims do not wear the bands.
The immediate focus of the authorities was to provide the best possible medical care and to restore the affected area in the Grand Mosque.
Within one hour of the tragedy on Friday, pilgrims were back in the mosque in huge numbers circumambulating the Holy Kaaba at the center of the mosque.

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