Number of missing Pakistani pilgrims rises to 100
ISLAMABAD: The number of missing Pakistani pilgrims has gone up to 100 from the earlier reported figure of 67, and efforts are under way to trace their whereabouts in coordination with the Saudi authorities.
Contrary to claims made earlier by PML-N’s Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary that a settlement would be reached with Saudi Arabia for the bodies to be flown back to the country, he said on Friday that the matter was yet to be resolved.
He said family members of 10 of the deceased pilgrims had demanded that the bodies be returned for burial in Pakistan.
“We are in touch with the Saudi authorities to facilitate the arrival of the bodies,” he said, adding that it was part of Haj that anyone who died during the pilgrimage should be buried there.
Dr Chaudhary is the focal person appointed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the Mina tragedy. According to him, the death toll of Pakistani pilgrims in the incident has risen to 57, as per reports available at 6pm on Friday, while the number of those injured had declined to 12 and 37 people had been discharged from hospitals in Jeddah and Makkah.
He claimed that 100 people were still missing, including 49 pilgrims who had proceeded for Haj from Pakistan.
“But there is no record with us regarding 10 iqama (residence permits) holding Pakistanis who were working in Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that there were 41 Pakistanis who had proceeded to perform Haj from other countries.
According to him, details of the missing pilgrims were obtained after relatives contacted the Haj mission in Makkah, the Pakistani embassy in Jeddah or the helpline.
Dr Chaudhary said the situation was not unique to Pakistan; the number of deceased Indian pilgrims was 51 while 88 were missing. Similarly, he said; there were 58 missing from Egypt and 95 from Indonesia.
According to APP, Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has completed the DNA profiling of all the pilgrims who were injured and killed in the stampede. They are urging relatives of the victims to provide blood samples so their loved ones can be identified. The health ministry’s spokesman Faisal Al Zahrani said all the DNA profiles were being kept at Makkah’s Al Noor Specialist Hospital in Hijra district.
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