22 July 2024,   00:37
1,301 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage

More than 1,300 people have died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, according to Saudi Arabia’s health minister, writes abc.net.au.

Fahad Al-Jalajel, quoted by state television on Sunday, said many of the 1,301 deaths were caused by pilgrims “walking long distances under direct sunlight without adequate shelter or comfort”.

Fatalities also included a number of elderly people and those suffering from chronic diseases. Some 83 % of the fatalities were among people who were not authorised to make the pilgrimage, he said.

An Egyptian crisis unit tasked with investigating the situation said it had suspended licences of 16 tourism companies and referred them to the public prosecutor. The tourism companies are accused of being responsible for deaths the unit said were mainly among pilgrims not registered under the official system. The unit said 31 deaths were confirmed as a result of chronic illness among officially registered pilgrims.

The Hajj is an annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia performed over five to six days. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims who are able to must complete it at least once in their lives. Temperatures at times exceeded 51 degrees Celsius during the Hajj.