Abdullah Al Harthi Image Credit: Supplied photo

Cairo: A Saudi health official passed away while on duty at a holy site where Muslim pilgrims are performing the annual Hajj rites that began on Friday.

Abdullah Al Harthi, a supervisor of health centers and an official at the Mecca Health Cluster, died while preparing services for the pilgrims, triggering an outpouring of condolences.

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Saudi Minister of Health Fahad Al Jalajel paid tribute to Al Harthi. "The dear colleague passed away while in the service of the Guests of God at the holy places as part of a long journey of devotion during which he was sincere in undertaking his mission and made a great impact on many lives," Al Jalajel said in an X post.

Hajj 2024

Al Harthi's death occurred on Thursday, a day before the onset of this year's Hajj rituals. He oversaw health facilities at the Jammarat site, where the pilgrims will start performing the symbolic stoning of the devil in a multi-floor structure in the valley of Mina, near Mecca.

The cause of death was not disclosed. Saudi Arabia has intensified health services for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims during the current Hajj season, which coincides with the scorching summer heat in the kingdom.

Saudi authorities have deployed thousands of medical professionals at facilities and routes used by the pilgrims. The Ministry of Health has placed more than 32,000 medical and administrative personnel on duty at health facilities, including mobile clinics, in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, as well as other sacred sites, to provide various medical services for the pilgrims. Air ambulances are also on duty.

The facilities include intensive care units and offer treatment for sunstrokes. Extremely hot weather is expected during the Hajj season, with temperatures forecast to range from 45 to 48 degrees Celsius in Mecca and Medina.