Cairo: Twenty-nine Egyptians have died in the ongoing annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian Health Ministry reported on Saturday.
Most deaths occurred on the day of ascending the Mount Arafat, which marks the peak of Haj that fell on Thursday this year, and the following day when pilgrims ritually start a symbolic stoning of the devil in Mina near the holy city of Makkah, a health official said.
“The rise in deaths is the result of exhaustion and old age,” added Dr Ahmad Al Ansari, the head of the Egyptian Haj medical mission in Saudi Arabia, according to Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency.
The dead pilgrims aged 60 to 85 years.
“Coordination is underway with the [Saudi] authorities concerned in order to issue death certificates for them.”
Al Ansari added that 53 Egyptian pilgrims are at present in Saudi hospitals receiving treatment for heat exhaustion, cold bouts and high blood pressure.
Nearly 90,000 Egyptians are attending this year’s Haj, topping the list of Arab pilgrims estimated at 415,000.
Around 2.3 million pilgrims from around the world are currently in Saudi Arabia, according to official figures.
The Haj is one of Islam’s five pillars. Muslims are expected to perform it at least once in their lives if they can afford it and are physically able. The annual journey involves intense worshipping and physically demanding rituals.