Published: 09:48, June 24, 2024 | Updated: 10:13, June 24, 2024
Saudi Arabia registers 1,301 pilgrim deaths during haj
By Agencies
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 17, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia announced Sunday it recorded 1,301 deaths among pilgrims during haj season, 83 percent of whom were unregistered individuals.

The Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel said that the kingdom's healthcare sector addressed "numerous" heat stress cases, with some individuals still in medical care, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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"Among the deceased were several elderly and chronically ill individuals," the minister said, indicating that the heat affected unregistered pilgrims most as they had walked long distances under direct sunlight without adequate shelter or comfort.

Most of dead were Egyptians. Security and medical sources told Reuters on Sunday that the Egyptian death toll had risen to 672 and another 25 were missing

All victims have been identified and their families notified, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and the issuance of death certificates, he added.

READ MORE: Extreme heat: Egypt sees major spike in haj deaths as toll rises

Al-Jalajel praised efforts made by the competent authorities to raise heat stress awareness and preparedness among pilgrims facing high temperatures, as well as the support by first responders and the haj security forces in handling heat stress cases.

He declared health management during the past haj season was a success, "with no recorded outbreaks of epidemics or widespread diseases."

Notably, the health system provided over 465,000 specialized treatment services ranging from emergency care and surgeries to dialysis, including 141,000 services to those who didn't obtain official authorization to perform haj.

Approximately 1.3 million preventive services were delivered, including early detection, vaccinations, and medical care upon arrival.

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Most of dead were Egyptians. Security and medical sources told Reuters on Sunday that the Egyptian death toll had risen to 672 and another 25 were missing.

A total of 236 Indonesians died, according to Indonesian government data, while India's External Affairs agency said 98 Indian citizens died during haj.

Further deaths were reported by Tunisia, Jordan, Iran, and Senegal.

An Egyptian crisis unit tasked with investigating the situation said on Saturday it has suspended the licenses of 16 tourism companies and referred them to the public prosecutor, accusing them of being responsible for deaths it said were mainly among pilgrims not registered under the official system.

With Reuters inputs