At least 63 Indian pilgrims are still missing almost a week after the Haj stampede in Mecca, sources told The Indian Express Wednesday. While Indian officials are visiting mortuaries and hospitals in Saudi Arabia to locate them, New Delhi is worried the death toll of Indian pilgrims might rise.
So far, 46 Indians have been identified as dead and 50 as injured by the Indian consulate in Jeddah.
Sources said B S Mubarak, Consulate General of India in Jeddah, has brought the issue of the missing Indians to New Delhi’s attention. “Mubarak sent the list of missing Indians to the Ministry of External Affairs Wednesday. Our officials are trying to locate them,” a South Block source said.
As per Mubarak’s list, 20 of the 63 missing Indians are from Gujarat. Nine pilgrims each of UP and West Bengal are missing. The remaining hail from Assam (4), Bihar (2), J&K (4), Jharkhand (6), Karnataka (2), Maharashtra (2) and Telangana (2). An Indian diplomat from Jeddah said: “Indian Haj Mission Doctors are being sent to hospitals in and around Mecca to identify them. The challenge is that Saudi authorities are yet to release complete details of pilgrims who died.”
Saudi authorities have issued photos of the deceased to ascertain identities, even as India’s Haj mission updated its list of dead to 46. Of them, 15 are from Gujarat, six from Kerala, three from Tamil Nadu and one from Telangana.
Most deceased were identified by relatives who came to Saudi Arabia from India. Teams from India’s Haj mission have been posted at the Moassim mortuary in Mecca, to help relatives identify the dead and perform their last rites. A control room has also been set up in Mecca.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier said Saudi authorities had given 1,090 photos to confirm the identities of the deceased.
The Consulate in Jeddah has also constituted a team to manage queries from victims’ families.