According to an AFP tally, over 1,000 people have died from this year’s hajj pilgrimage.

Hajj is the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims.

“Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and of supporting their family during their absence from home,” Wikipedia states.

The death toll is reportedly due to the extreme heat of the Saudi summer.

“The death toll from this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia has exceeded 1,000, according to an AFP tally on Thursday, more than half of them unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat,” AFP News Agency wrote.

CBS News reports:

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

All told around 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the annual pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims with the means must complete at least once. The figures have come via official statements or from diplomats working on their countries’ responses.

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

The national meteorological center reported a high of 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier this week at the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Egyptian officials reached by CBS News would not confirm the figures stated by the AFP, but dozens of videos posted on social media in recent days showed bodies laying on the streets around the Grand Mosque.

From The Guardian:

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 said on Thursday about Saturday’s day-long outdoor prayers that marked the climax of the hajj.

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

Egyptian officials were visiting hospitals to obtain information and help Egyptian pilgrims receive 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.

Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has ordered that a “crisis cell” headed by the prime minister follow up on the deaths of the country’s pilgrims.


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