Officials on Sunday confirmed the deaths of at least three dozen Pakistanis in the Hajj stampede in Mina four days ago which left nearly as many Pakistani pilgrims injured in the tragic incident.
The total death toll from the stampede rose to 769 as the annual pilgrimage in Makkah ended under reinforced security measures.
Saudi Health Minister Khaled al Falih announced the new figure, an increase from the previous toll of 717. “Those are the ones who have died in various hospitals since the event,” he told a news conference, adding that 934 people were wounded in the worst Hajj disaster in a quarter of a century.
Twelve of those who sustained injuries have already been discharged from hospital while the remaining Pakistanis are still undergoing treatment. Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousuf told a news conference in Saudi Arabia that 36 Pakistanis had died during the stampede in Mina.
The religious affairs ministry has prepared a list of the deceased and injured victims of the deadly stampede, which took place during one of the last rituals of Hajj. The minister said efforts were under way to locate the missing Pakistani pilgrims.
Unconfirmed media reports suggested that over 300 Pakistani pilgrims were still unaccounted for. But the Hajj authorities refused to give a figure. The religious affairs minister claimed that 161 of the Pakistanis reported missing had returned to their hotels.
The Foreign Office also rejected a report in the British newspaper Guardian, claiming that 236 Pakistanis had died in the stampede. A statement said the Pakistan Embassy was facilitating the identification of the deceased at the mortuary in Makkah and efforts were being made to locate the missing pilgrims.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier had directed the FO and Hajj director-general to speed up efforts to locate the missing Pakistanis.
According to FO spokesperson, a team of embassy and Hajj directorate officials headed by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Manzoorul Haq was at the mortuary for checking available information about the nationalities of martyrs and identification of bodies.
List of deceased
The religious affairs ministry identified the deceased as: Hafsa Shoaib, Zareen Nasim, Narjis Shahnaz, Bibi Zainab, Mahmood Arshad, Rasheedan Bibi, Zahid Gul, Dr Ameer Ali Lashari, Syed Asad Murtaza Gilani, Abdul Rehman and his wife Shehnaz Qamar from Kot Addu, Islam Ahmad, Bushra Bibi, Muhammad Hasrat, Azeem Khan, Muhammad Idrees, Aamir Muhammad Malook, Gul Shahnaz, Najma Mukhtar, Noor Muhammad, Muhammad Aslam, Madina Bibi, Tauseef Iftikhar from Rahim Yar Khan, Muhammad Ismail Khan, Bibi Zara, Abdul Ahad, Haji Abbas Khan, Talmeez Ahmed, Siraj Ahmed Siraj, Mian Muhammad Riaz, Aziz Mai, Bibi Shakira, Arif, Asif Khan, Ibrahim Khan and Asad Khan.
Late Asad Gilani was a nephew of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. His brother Abul Hassan confirmed his death after one of his friends sent him a photo.
Aziz Mai, 42, a resident of Galaxy Town in Multan, had gone for Hajj with her husband Haji Noor Muhammad, 45. Their son told The Express Tribune that his maternal uncle in Saudi Arabia received the body of his mother while his father had received minor injuries.
The FO spokesperson clarified that the number of people missing was not necessarily linked to the Mina stampede. “The pilgrims are often separated from their families going from one place to another during Hajj. They later reunite with their families.”
PM Nawaz has directed the religious affairs ministry to hold daily press briefings and set up a call centre/helpline to keep the families of pilgrims posted about the latest developments.
Pakistan International Airlines Chairman Nasir Jaffar announced that the bodies of the deceased pilgrims would be brought back to Pakistan free of charge.