CAIRO: At least 14 Egyptian pilgrims have died so far in Mecca a few days before hajj rituals are to begin, the executive chairman of the hajj mission, Shaker el-Kayal, was quoted as saying by Youm7 Monday.
Most of the deceased were aged above 50 and died in different hospitals as a result of sudden health crises such as hepatic coma, respiratory problems, heart attacks and severe drop in blood circulation.
According to Kayal, nearly 60,000 Egyptians have traveled to Mecca in three different hajj missions organized by the government including a pilgrimage electronic-draw based mission, a mission of the Ministry of Tourism and another by the Ministry of Solidarity.
Minister of Endowment Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a had traveled to Mecca to follow up on pilgrims’ situation. In a press conference held Monday, the minister announced that an Egyptian pilgrim was sent back home as punishment for using political speech at Masjid al-Haram, adding that strict sanctions will be applied in similar instances.
The hajj pilgrimage, which occurs from 8-12 Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, is one of the world’s largest gatherings when Muslims around the world flock to Mecca and the holy sites in Saudi Arabia every year to participate in one of five corners of Islam.
Stoning of the devil and walking counterclockwise seven times around the Ka’aba, the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for Muslims, are amongst the most famous rituals of hajj.
The 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah witnesses the most important ritual, known as the Arafat Day.
Additional reporting by Medhat Wahba, Mervat Rashad and Ibrahim Mohamed.