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Hajj death toll tops 1,000 after extreme heat

Hajj death toll tops 1,000 after extreme heat
Фото: El.kz/Yerbol Bekbolat /Midjourney 21.06.2024 11:34 601

The death toll from this year's hajj has exceeded 1,000, an AFP tally said Thursday, more than half unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat in Saudi Arabia, El.kz cites AFP.

The new deaths reported Thursday included 58 from Egypt, according to an Arab diplomat who provided a breakdown showing that of 658 Egyptians who died, 630 were unregistered pilgrims.

Around 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims with the means must complete at least once.

The hajj, whose timing is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, fell again this year during the oven-like Saudi summer.

The national meteorological centre reported a high of 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) this week at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

A Saudi study published last month said temperatures in the area are rising 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade.

Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims try to join the hajj through irregular channels as they cannot afford the often costly official permits.

Saudi authorities reported clearing hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca this month, but it appears many still participated in the main rites which began last Friday.

This group was more vulnerable, because without official permits they could not access air-conditioned spaces provided for the 1.8 million authorised pilgrims to cool down.

"People were tired after being chased by security forces before Arafat day. They were exhausted," one Arab diplomat told AFP on Thursday of Saturday's day-long outdoor prayers that marked the hajj's climax.

The diplomat said the main cause of death among Egyptian pilgrims was the heat, which triggered complications related to high blood pressure and other issues.

Egyptian officials were visiting hospitals to obtain information and help Egyptian pilgrims get medical care, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

"However, there are large numbers of Egyptian citizens who are not registered in hajj databases, which requires double the effort and a longer time to search for missing persons and find their relatives," it said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has ordered that a "crisis cell" headed by the prime minister follow up on the deaths of the country's pilgrims.

Sisi stressed "the need for immediate coordination with the Saudi authorities to facilitate receiving the bodies of the deceased and streamline the process," said a statement from his office.

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