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Egyptian Deaths During Hajj Rise to 600+

June 20, 2024
Credit: Amr Nabil / AP

The death toll among Egyptian pilgrims during the Hajj pilgrimage has risen sharply to at least 600, with searing heat cited as the primary cause.

This updated figure was provided by an Arab diplomat to AFP news agency on Wednesday, following earlier reports of 323 deathsearlier reports of 323 deaths. The temperatures in Mecca soared to a blistering 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday earlier this week 

“All of the (newly confirmed) deaths were because of the heat as well,” the diplomat said to AFP, highlighting the severe conditions that contributed to the tragic fatalities.

In response to the escalating crisis, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi ordered the formation of a task force to oversee the repatriation of the deceased Egyptian pilgrims and provide necessary support to their families. The task force, led by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, will manage the situation regarding the deaths of Egyptian pilgrims during the Hajj 2024 season, according to a presidential statement released on Thursday.

The president’s directives come amid reports of additional deaths and missing Egyptian pilgrims during the pilgrimage.

The overall death toll from the Hajj 2024 season has exceeded 1,000, with more than half of the deceased being unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat, reported AFP.

Around 56,000 officially registered Egyptian pilgrims participated in Hajj this year. The Egyptian government is now coordinating with Saudi authorities to facilitate the repatriation of the deceased pilgrims’ bodies and to provide all necessary assistance.

Earlier on Thursday, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs dispatched field consular teams to Mecca and other holy sites to search for the missing Egyptian pilgrims. These consular teams are visiting hospitals to gather data on Egyptian pilgrims who have been admitted for treatment or have passed away, and crosschecking this information with reports filed by the families of the missing pilgrims.

Around 1.8 million pilgrims took part in the Hajj this year, 1.6 million of them from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.

Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to perform the Hajj without securing official visas in order to save money, a more dangerous undertaking because these off-the-books pilgrims cannot access air-conditioned facilities provided by Saudi authorities along the Hajj route.

One of the diplomats who spoke to AFP on Tuesday said that the Egyptian death toll was “absolutely” boosted by a large number of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims.

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