Missing Myanmar pilgrim found alive in hospital, 4 days after stampede

30 September 2015
Missing Myanmar pilgrim found alive in hospital, 4 days after stampede
Rasul Bi, sister of Fatima Bibi (Photo - Connor Macdonald)

A Myanmar national who went missing after last week’s stampede at the Islamic holy site at Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which killed 769 pilgrims including six from Myanmar, has been found alive at a local hospital, near Mina.
Fatima Bibi whose family operates a travel agency specialising in tours to the holy site of Mecca for Myanmar pilgrims was part of a group of 80 pilgrims when the stampede occurred, separating her from her family in the ensuing chaos.
Her sister, Rasul Bi, who lives in Yangon, said that her nephew, Ahmed Bodi, had phoned the family with the disturbing news that heand his mother had been separated in the stampede and was un-accounted for. He continued to search for her and half an hour later he found her under the bodies of 2 pilgrims, only her face visible. She was unconscious and struggling for air.
In the panic, she was rushed into an ambulance and taken away before Ahmed could get any information about where she was being taken nor could he supply the paramedics any information about her identity.
Earlier that day Fatima Bibi had lost her belongings which contained her wallet with her ID in it. Rasul Bi said this was her sister's 10th trip to the Hajj at Mecca and much to the disapproval of her family she no longer thought it necessary to wear an ID bracelet.
Ahmed phoned his 4 sisters, who live across the world, to explain that he'd found their mother alive but she'd been rushed off in an ambulance; he didn't know where to and the authorities had no means of identifying her.
The family pooled their resources and enlisted the help of local contacts. Through an exhausting and convoluted trail of apparent sightings, phone calls and countless visits to local hospitals which lasted 4 days, one of the contacts had been given the phone number of Dr. Abdul Ilaah who was working in 'Jisr Al Mina' hospital.
A daughter of Fatima Bibi sent Dr. Abdul a photograph of her mother via WhatsApp and Dr. Abdul confirmed that he'd seen her and that she was being treated and her condition was improving. Later that night the family residence in Sharjah, UAE, received a call from Dr. Abdul who had Fatima Bibi on the phone, he also sent them a photo as confirmation.
The stampede occurred when two large groups of pilgrims collided at Mina, near Mecca. This is the deadliest stampede at the Hajj in 25 years but the area at Mina has long been considered a trouble spot where deadly stampedes could occur.
Out of the 80 people who made the pilgrimage, 6 died in the stampede, 5 are still missing and 3 have been found alive. Fatima Bibi and the remaining members of the tour group are to return to Myanmar on October 16.