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Pakistan Mourns 35 Deaths in Haj Tragedy Amid Saudi Arabia’s Record High Temperatures During Pilgrimage

ISLAMABAD, June 20: At least 35 Pakistanis were among the over 900 individuals who tragically lost their lives during this year’s Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, as confirmed by the Pakistani government. The Ministry of Religious Affairs stated that the Haj season was exceptionally challenging due to scorching temperatures and harsh weather conditions, with mercury soaring to 50 degrees Celsius. Saudi state TV reported even higher temperatures, reaching 51.8 degrees Celsius at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Monday.

Abdul Wahab Soomro, Director General of Pakistan’s Haj Mission, disclosed that as of June 18, a total of 35 Pakistani pilgrims had passed away during Haj. These casualties included 20 in Makkah, six in Madina, four in Mina, three in Arafat, and two in Muzdalifah, as reported by Dawn newspaper. Soomro emphasized that Saudi authorities had established a system for burials within Haramain and arranged for the repatriation of bodies to Pakistan upon request from their families.

While Saudi Arabia has not officially released casualty figures, it did report over 2,700 cases of heat exhaustion on a single day, underscoring the severe conditions faced by pilgrims. Soomro urged the public not to lend credence to misleading social media posts depicting pilgrims in distress, describing such content as unverified and potentially misleading.

Highlighting the annual challenges of the Haj pilgrimage, which shifts according to the Islamic calendar and this year coincided with June, one of the kingdom’s hottest months, Saudi authorities had cautioned against performing certain rituals during peak temperatures. The pilgrimage also saw a significant number of deaths among Indian pilgrims, according to reports in Dawn newspaper.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Islamabad issued a statement cautioning against the spread of unverified videos depicting distressing scenes among pilgrims, affirming the need for accurate information verified by Saudi authorities and corroborated by the mission.