Death toll of Egyptian pilgrims reaches 17
Muslim pilgrims move in circles around the holy Kaaba from the third floor at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

CAIRO: A total of 17 Egyptian pilgrims have reportedly died due to “health issues,” according to an Egyptian mission in Saudi Arabia monitoring the health status of the Egyptians flocking into the kingdom to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The reported deaths were due to circulatory collapse, heart attack and cancer.

Some 33,980 Egyptian pilgrims have visited outpatient clinics in Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, while the number of patients who were hospitalized reached 85 thus far.

The Egyptian mission is providing regular dialysis sessions for 19 pilgrims who are suffering kidney failure.

The Hajj, meaning pilgrimage, is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is the largest Muslim gathering through the year, during which deaths among pilgrims usually occur, either due to stampedes or sudden health crises.

The Saudi authorities have announced an approximately 2 percent decline in the number of total pilgrims compared to last year. They have previously said that this year, more than 1.3 million pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom from around the world so far.

As of Saturday, some 58,141 of a total 70,000 Egyptian pilgrims had arrived in Mecca to perform the rituals, which will start Tuesday.

Early this month two Egyptian pilgrims died and some 30 were injured after a construction crane collapsed in the Grand Mosque in Mecca city.

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