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This year’s Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia has cost the lives of at least 1,301 people. In total, there were 1.8 million people who participated this year.

It’s believed that more than 75% of those who died didn’t have official permits to be there. The official Saudi news agency SPA said the unauthorised pilgrims were walking under direct sunlight without adequate shelter.

These pilgrims typically don’t have access to air-conditioned tents and official Hajj transport. This year, temperatures reached as high as 51.8C.

The annual pilgrimage is made by Muslims as they descend on the city of Mecca. It’s required of Muslims who are financially and physically able to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

Local health facilities treated almost half a million pilgrims with 140,000 of them not being able to show permits.

Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel said the government has raised awareness about the dangers of heat stress and how pilgrims can avoid it. This follows Saudi Arabia being criticised for not making the Hajj safer, especially for unregistered pilgrims.

He shared his condolences.

“May Allah forgive and have mercy on the deceased. Our heartfelt condolences go to their families.”

Image credit: ILM UK

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