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Over 900 Deaths Reported During Haj amidst Heatwave

Reportedly 35 Pakistanis among deceased, whose nationalities span the globe

by Staff Report

Fethi Belaid—AFP

At least 35 Pakistanis are among the more than 900 pilgrims who died while performing the Haj this year amidst extreme heat, the Ministry of Religious Affairs confirmed on Thursday.

According to news agencies, temperatures in Saudi Arabia climbed to 51.8° Celsius in the shade this week. The heatwave coincided with the Haj, resulting in over 900 deaths—600 Egyptians; 144 Indonesians; 68 Indians; 60 Jordanians; 35 Pakistanis; 35 Tunisians; 11 Iranians; and three Senegalese. According to Saudi state media, the number of reported cases of “heat exhaustion” are significantly higher, hitting 2,700 on Sunday alone.

In a statement addressing the tragedy, Pakistan’s Haj Mission Director General Abdul Wahab Soomro said 20 of the deceased Pakistanis perished in Makkah; six in Madina; four in Mina; three in Arafat; and two in Muzdalifah. He also urged the public to avoid sharing “baseless” videos suggesting authorities were not helping ailing pilgrims.

Soomro acknowledged “challenging” circumstances for Haj this year due to extreme heat. He said the Saudi government had set up a system for burials in Haramain, adding arrangements were present to send the bodies of any Pakistani pilgrims back to the home country if their heirs demanded so.

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