Top NewsSaudi Arabia reported that 1,301 people died during this...

Saudi Arabia reported that 1,301 people died during this year’s Hajj

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CNN

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that more than 1,300 people had died on this year’s haj pilgrimage – more than four-fifths of the deaths due to heat stress and “numerous cases” of “unauthorized” journeys.

“The health system has addressed several cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care. Unfortunately, the death toll reached 1,301,” the Saudi government said in a statement releasing its first official figures.

The report said 83% of those who died were “not authorized to perform Hajj” and had “walked long distances in direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort”. Among the dead were “many elderly and chronically ill persons”, it said, adding that the families of all the dead have now been identified.

Extreme heat has been cited as a major factor behind the hundreds of deaths and injuries reported during this year’s Hajj. The holy city of Mecca, the center of the Hajj pilgrimage, hit a record high of 125 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. Various officials have also said that the problem has been exacerbated by the number of unauthorized pilgrims.

Each pilgrim in Saudi Arabia must obtain one of 1.8 million permits to enter Mecca legally. These licenses cost several thousand US dollars. Unlicensed pilgrims usually do not travel in organized tour buses with air conditioning or easy access to water and food supplies.

The Saudi government suggested that the unauthorized nature of many of the trips was a factor in how long it took to release the official death toll, complicating the identification process.

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“Despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents, identification was made. “Proper processes were followed for identification of the dead, burial, honoring of the dead and issuance of death certificates,” the statement said.

Some pilgrims lamented the poor infrastructure and organization of Hajj this year. Even pilgrims on official tours spend most of their day walking outside in the scorching heat.

Some Witnesses told CNN They saw worshipers pass out and bodies wrapped in white cloth passed by.

AFP/Getty Images

Muslim pilgrims perform the farewell circumambulation, or “tawaf,” around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, seven times at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.

The announcement of Saudi Arabia has been released Egyptian government He promised to cancel the licenses of 16 Hajj tourism Companies involved in making illegal pilgrimages to Mecca and hundreds of Egyptians are among the dead are sending company managers to public prosecutors.

Egypt’s decision was made at a cabinet meeting on Saturday after a report highlighted the dubious nature of how some tourism companies operate.

The official death toll among Egyptians is 31, but Reuters and other publications put the death toll at between 500 and 600 Egyptians during the pilgrimage.

The report, which was reviewed by Cabinet, said some operators did not issue valid visas, so holders could not enter the holy city of Mecca and were instead forced to enter “on foot through desert paths”. It also accused some companies of failing to provide proper accommodation, causing tourists to suffer from heatstroke.

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At the meeting, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly offered his “sincere condolences and sympathies” as he pledged to provide the necessary support to the families of the dead pilgrims.

Hajj permits are allocated to countries under a quota system and each pilgrim in Saudi Arabia must obtain one of 1.8 million permits to enter Mecca legally.

But since one of these licenses can cost several thousand US dollars, many pilgrims attempt to access the site illegally and usually do not travel on organized tour buses with air conditioning or easy access to water and food supplies.

The Hajj timings are determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, which has fallen in hot temperatures this year in Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims made the trek this year in extreme temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Ahmad, a 44-year-old from Indonesia, told CNN that he saw many people getting sick and dying from the heat.

“On the way home, I saw many pilgrims die. About every few hundred meters a body was laid and covered with an ihrom [white fabric] Cloth.”

“Every time water is distributed from locals or some groups, it is immediately flooded with pilgrims,” ​​he said, adding that he did not see health workers or an ambulance on the road.

As part of the pilgrimage, believers perform a series of rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca, often requiring several hours of walking each day in intense heat.

Since governments only know pilgrims who have registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota, the exact death toll for this year’s Hajj total could be higher.

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