35 Pakistanis among over 1000 die in extreme heat during Haj

News Desk
Friday, Jun 21, 2024

ISLAMABAD: Federal Ministry of Religious Affairs confirmed on Thursday the deaths of as many as 35 Pakistani pilgrims during Haj this year due to extreme heat.

Other than Pakistan, several other countries namely Egypt, India, Jordan, Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia and Iraq have also reported deaths of their citizens.Director General of Pakistan’s Haj Mission Abdul Wahab Soomro said as of 4pm on June 18, deaths of 35 Pakistani pilgrims had been reported — 20 in Makkah, six in Medina, four in Mina, three in Arafat, and two in Muzdalifah. “Due to a temperature of 50°C, this was a tough Haj,” the official said.

Soomro also dismissed social media claims of leaving the pilgrims “helpless”. “We trust the Saudi government’s information and we confirm it ourselves as well, whenever there’s a death. We are informed.”

The ministry added under the Saudi government’s rules, they seek permission from the heirs of the family for burial. “After bathing [the body], funeral prayers are offered here and burial takes place in Saudi Arabia. In case the family wants the body back, arrangements are made to send it to Pakistan,” it said.

Media reports suggested that friends and family of missing Haj pilgrims were searching hospitals and pleading online for news about their loved ones.According to an AFP tally, the death toll from this year’s Haj has exceeded 1,000, with more than half of them being unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat in Saudi Arabia.

The new deaths reported on Thursday included 58 from Egypt, according to an Arab diplomat who provided a breakdown showing that of 658 total dead from that country, 630 were unregistered.

Around 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the annual pilgrimage. The figures have come via official statements or from diplomats working on their countries’ responses.The national meteorological centre reported a high of 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier this week at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

In addition to Egypt, fatalities have also been confirmed by Malaysia, India, Jordan, Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, though in many cases authorities have not specified the cause. Friends and family members have been searching for pilgrims who are still missing. Saudi Arabia has not provided information on fatalities, though it reported more than 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone.