July 19, 2024

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Saudi Arabia says 1,301 people died during the Hajj this year

Saudi Arabia says 1,301 people died during the Hajj this year



CNN

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that more than 1,300 people died during the Hajj season this year – with “many cases” due to heat exhaustion and “unauthorized” trips accounting for more than four out of five of the deaths.

“The health system has treated many cases of heat stress this year, and some individuals are still under care. Unfortunately, the number of deaths has reached 1,301,” the Saudi government said in a statement when publishing its first official figures.

The statement said that 83% of those who died were “unauthorized to perform Hajj” and “walked long distances under direct sunlight, without proper shelter or rest.” She added that among the deceased were “many elderly people and people with chronic diseases,” adding that the families of all the dead had now been identified.

Extreme heat has been identified as a major factor behind hundreds of deaths and injuries reported this year during the Hajj season. Mecca, the holy city considered a hub for pilgrims, saw temperatures soar to a record high of 125 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. Various authorities also said that problems were exacerbated by the number of unofficial Hajj trips.

Saudi Arabia requires every pilgrim to obtain one of 1.8 million licenses available to legally access Mecca. These licenses can 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 also appears to suggest that the unauthorized nature of many of the flights was a factor in how long it took to issue an official death toll because that complicated the identification process.

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“Identification has been completed, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper procedures were followed for identification, burial and honoring of the deceased with the submission of death certificates,” the statement said.

Some pilgrims expressed their regret over the poor infrastructure and organization of the Hajj season this year. Even pilgrims on official trips spend the better part of their day walking outdoors in the scorching heat.

some Witnesses told CNN How they saw worshipers losing consciousness and passing in front of bodies covered with a white cloth.

AFP/Getty Images

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

The announcement comes from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the same time Egyptian government He pledged to cancel 16 licenses Hajj tourism Companies involved in the illegal Hajj to Mecca and referring company managers to the Public Prosecution amid fears that hundreds of Egyptians may be among the dead.

The Egyptian decision was taken at a cabinet meeting on Saturday after a report highlighted the questionable nature of how some tourism companies operate.

The official number among Egyptians is 31, but Reuters news agency and other media reported that as many as 500 to 600 Egyptians died during the Hajj.

The report, which was reviewed by the Cabinet, said some operators were not issued valid visas, so their holders were unable to enter the holy city of Mecca, and were instead forced to enter “through desert passes on foot.” Some companies were also accused of failing to provide suitable accommodation, leaving tourists exposed to the heat.

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During the meeting, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly expressed his “sincere condolences and sympathy” to the families of the deceased pilgrims, and was committed to providing them with the necessary support.

Hajj permits are allocated to countries according to a quota system, and Saudi Arabia requires each pilgrim to obtain one of 1.8 million permits available to legally access Mecca.

But since the cost of one such permit costs several thousand US dollars, many pilgrims attempt to reach the site illegally and do not usually travel in organized, air-conditioned tour buses or have easy access to water and food supplies.

The Hajj is timed according to the Islamic lunar calendar, which this year fell during scorching temperatures in Saudi Arabia. The pilgrims made the journey this year in extreme temperatures reaching 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

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

“All the way home, I saw many pilgrims who had died. About every few hundred metres, there was a dead body lying covered in a blanket.” [white fabric] fabric.”

“Every time water is distributed from locals or certain groups, it is immediately swarmed by pilgrims,” he added, saying he did not see a single health worker or ambulance along the route.

As part of the Hajj, believers perform a series of rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca, often including walking for long hours in scorching temperatures every day.

The exact number of deaths relative to the total number of deaths in this year’s Hajj season may continue to rise, as governments are only aware of pilgrims who have registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota.

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