By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The just concluded Islamic pilgrimage or hajj in Saudi Arabia has left 39 pilgrims, including five Filipinos, dead of various causes on different religious rituals and venues in the Muslim kingdom.
There were 34 deaths earlier reported, involving pilgrims from Bangladesh and Nigeria. The five Filipino fatalities were among close to 7,000 Filipino hajj goers, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) that closely supervised the Philippine delegates this year said.
NCMF reports named the five Filipino hajj fatalities as Kiram Macapalao Rasuman, 62, male, from Lumba Bayabao, Lanao del Sur; Abdulnasser Hosain Banto, 62, from Taraka, Lanao del Sur; Bailani Sakandal Dalandas, 70, female, and Enting Tungao Kamensa, 66, male, both of Datu Piang, Maguindanao; and Sarapia Abalimbona Taha, 57, female, of Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur.
Rasuman, Taha, Kamensa, Dalandas, and Banto died of cardiac arrest in different hajj ritual venues in Madinah and Makkah on August 11, July 19, 20, 23 and 26, respectively, said NCMF spokesperson Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos.
The NCMF had posted online the photos of the five deceased Filipino pilgrims and their passports as well as legal papers from the Philippine Consular office in Saudi Arabia attesting that accompanying relatives have agreed to their burial in Makkah soil.
Asian pilgrims posted online that “29 people from Bangladesh and five from Nigeria died while performing hajj,” a yearly tradition forming one of the five pillars of Islam.
“Most of them (deceased Bangladesh and Nigeria pilgrims) were above the age of sixty. The deceased 29 pilgrims from Bangladesh included 26 male and three female,” one online report said.
The causes of deaths of the Bangladesh and Nigerian pilgrims included one fatal road mishap, an accidental fall from Mt. Arafat, and mostly due to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failures, and other diseases, the report added.
News stories in Saudi Arabia’s major national dailies said pilgrim-dignitaries from foreign states, including the British Council have lauded the oil-rich monarch government for its “successful hosting of smoother” hajj activities starting in mid-July until the second week of this month.
Online reports said around 150 pilgrims died in different religious rituals and areas in Saudi Arabia in the 2018 hajj, while close to 200 other fatalities were recorded during the 2016 hajj.
The 2018 hajj fatalities included six Filipino pilgrims, two of them fainting to death aboard flights bound to the Muslim kingdom, according to earlier NCMF reports.