At least 1,300 hajj pilgrims died during

At least 1,300 people have died during the hajj pilgrimage, which took place during intense heat, Saudi Arabia has said, adding that most of the deceased did not have official permits.





“Regrettably, the number of mortalities reached 1,301, with 83% being unauthorised to perform hajj and having walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.


tally last week, compiled by Agence France-Presse and based on official statements from diplomats, put the toll at more than 1,100. Arab diplomats told AFP that Egyptians accounted for 658 deaths, 630 of them unregistered pilgrims.





Riyadh had not publicly commented on the deaths or provided its own toll until Sunday. On Friday, however, a senior Saudi official gave a toll of 577 deaths for the two busiest days of hajj: 15 June, when pilgrims gathered for hours of prayers in the blazing sun on Mount Arafat; and 16 June, when they participated in the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina.





The Saudi health minister, Fahd al-Jalajel, on Sunday described the management of the hajj this year as “successful”, SPA reported.


He said there had been attempts to raise public awareness of the dangers of extreme heat, and added: “May Allah forgive and have mercy on the deceased. Our heartfelt condolences go to their families.”





The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims with the means must complete at least once in their lives. Saudi officials said 1.8 million pilgrims took part this year, a similar number to last year, and that 1.6 million came from abroad.


For the past several years, the mainly outdoor rituals have fallen during the sweltering Saudi summer. Temperatures in Mecca this year climbed as high as 51.8C (125.2F).


On Saturday, the Egyptian prime minister, Mostafa Madbouly, ordered 16 tourism companies to be stripped of their licences and referred their managers to the public prosecutor over illegal pilgrimages to Mecca, Egypt’s cabinet said.

It said the rise in the number of deaths of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims stemmed from some companies that “organised the hajj programmes using a personal visit visa, which prevents its holders from entering Mecca” via official channels.

Hajj permits are allocated to countries on a quota system and distributed to individuals by lottery.

Even for those who can obtain them, the steep costs spur many to attempt the hajj without a permit, though they risk arrest and deportation if caught.


By The Guardian News