More than 1,000 pilgrims have died during the Hajj this year

CAIRO (AP) — More than 1,000 people died Hajj this year in Saudi Arabia Worshipers at Islamic shrines in the desert kingdom faced high temperatures, officials said Sunday.

More than half of the dead were from Egypt, according to two officials in Cairo. Egypt has revoked the licenses of 16 travel companies that helped unauthorized pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, officials said.

Saudi Arabia No comment was made on the deaths during the pilgrimage Every competent Muslim needs it once in their lifetime.

The Egyptian government reported that 31 authorized pilgrims died of chronic illnesses during this year’s hajj, but did not provide official figures for other pilgrims. Egypt sent more than 50,000 authorized pilgrims to Saudi Arabia this year, the government said.

However, a cabinet official said at least 630 Egyptians had died during the pilgrimage, most reported at an emergency complex in Mecca’s al-Mu’izem area. An Egyptian diplomat who confirmed the figure said most of the dead had been buried in Saudi Arabia.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment to reporters.

Saudi authorities have cracked down on unauthorized pilgrims, evicting tens of thousands. But many, mostly Egyptians, managed to reach the holy sites in and around Mecca, some on foot. Unlike authorized pilgrims, they do not have hotels to escape the intense heat.

In its report, the government said 16 travel agencies failed to provide adequate services to pilgrims. These agencies illegally facilitated pilgrims’ travel to Saudi Arabia using visas that did not allow holders to travel to Mecca.

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The government also said that officials of the companies have been referred to the public prosecutor for questioning.

According to the state-owned Al-Ahram daily, some travel agents and Hajj tour operators sold Saudi tourist visas to Egyptian Hajj hopefuls, violating Saudi regulations requiring special visas for pilgrims. The newspaper said the agencies had blocked pilgrims to Mecca and other holy sites amid the sweltering heat.

Muslim pilgrims use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun as they throw stones at pillars in the symbolic stoning of the devil, the last rite of the annual Hajj, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

165 pilgrims from Indonesia, 98 from India and dozens from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Malaysia have died, according to an Associated Press count. Two American pilgrims were reported dead.

The AP could not independently confirm the causes of death, but some countries such as Jordan and Tunisia blamed rising temperatures. Saudi officials did not respond to questions seeking more information.

Associated Press journalists witnessed pilgrims fainting from intense heat during Hajj, especially on the second and third days. Some vomited and fainted.

It is not uncommon for deaths to occur during the Hajj at times, as more than 2 million people make the five-day pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The history of the pilgrimage has also witnessed deadly stampedes and epidemics.

But this year’s figure was unusually high, indicating exceptional circumstances.

In 2015, 2,400 pilgrims were killed in a stampede at Mina, according to the AP account, the worst incident to attack the pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia has never acknowledged the full toll of the stampede. A lone crane collapsed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque At the beginning of the same year, 111 people were killed.

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1,426 people were killed in the 1990 stampede.

During this year’s hajj period, the daily high temperature reached 46 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) and 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) in Mecca and the holy sites around the city, according to the Saudi National Meteorological Department. Some fainted while trying to perform The devil’s symbolic stoning.

Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. More than 1.83 million Muslims will have performed the Hajj in 2024, including more than 1.6 million from 22 countries and about 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents, according to Saudi Hajj authorities.

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on crowd control and security measures for the annual five-day pilgrimage, but the sheer number of participants makes it difficult to ensure their safety.

Climate change may further increase the risk. A 2019 study by experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that even if the world succeeds in mitigating the worst effects of climate change, the Hajj will be held at temperatures above the “extreme danger threshold” from 2047 to 2052 and from 2079 to 2079. 2086.

Islam follows the lunar calendar, so Hajj comes 11 days earlier every year. By 2029, Hajj will occur in April, and for many years after that it will be in winter, when the temperature will be low.

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