Home International More than 1,000 die in Hajj amid scorching temperatures

More than 1,000 die in Hajj amid scorching temperatures

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More than 1,000 people died during Hajj this year, according to a Reuters tally, as extreme heat hammered the nearly two million who took part in the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they perform Tawaf at the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 18, 2024. Picture: Reuters, Mohammed Torokman

CAIRO/RIYADH – More than 1,000 people died during Hajj this year, according to a Reuters tally, as extreme heat hammered the nearly two million who took part in the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Most of dead were Egyptians. Security and medical sources told Reuters on Sunday that the Egyptian death toll had risen to 672 and another 25 were missing.

A total of 236 Indonesians died, according to Indonesian government data, while India’s External Affairs agency said 98 Indian citizens died during Hajj.

Further deaths were reported by Tunisia, Jordan, Iran, and Senegal, making this year’s total toll at least 1,114 people, according to a Reuters tally.

An Egyptian crisis unit tasked with investigating the situation said on Saturday it has suspended licences of 16 tourism companies and referred them to the public prosecutor, accusing them of being responsible for deaths it said were mainly among pilgrims not registered under the official system.

The unit said 31 deaths were confirmed as a result of chronic illness among officially registered pilgrims.

The tourism companies which facilitated the travel of those who died did not provide them with services of any kind, including medical, the statement said without naming the companies involved.

The agencies are being blamed for sending pilgrims to Saudi on personal visit visas, rather than Hajj visas that allow access to Mecca where Hajj rituals take place.

Medical services offered by Saudi authorities to alleviate the hardships of the pilgrimage are not offered to those travelling with a personal visa. The pilgrims who died had to walk through the desert into Mecca to avoid arrest or deportation, the statement added.

Egyptian authorities also say those travel agencies did not provide the pilgrims with “appropriate accommodation,” adding that this caused pilgrims’ “exhaustion due to the high temperatures.”

Egyptian authorities also documented 31 deaths among registered Egyptian pilgrims, citing “chronic diseases” as the cause of deaths.

Most of those who died were unregistered, the statement said.

Temperatures have at times exceeded 51 degrees Celsius in the Saudi city in recent days.

– REUTERS

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