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Egypt targets travel agencies over Hajj deaths

The country’s authorities have accused the companies of failing to provide proper accommodation and medical services to pilgrims

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has ordered the licenses of 16 travel agencies revoked due to accusations they arranged travel for unregistered pilgrims without providing necessary services, resulting in deaths, local news agency MENA reported on Saturday. 

The tourist industry also reportedly sent pilgrims to Saudi Arabia on personal visit visas instead of Hajj visas, which grant access to Mecca. On Saturday, Madbouly chaired a meeting of officials, where he extended his condolences to the grieving families, and emphasized they would be provided all necessary support and care. He mentioned that Saudi authorities were working with Egypt to facilitate the transfer of the victims’ remains and to determine what caused their deaths.

“The prime minister has ordered the licenses of these companies to be revoked, their managers to be referred to the public prosecutor and the imposition of a fine to benefit the families of the pilgrims who died because of them,” the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement.

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Pilgrims worship and circumambulate around the Kaaba after fulfilling the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on June 19, 2024.
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In addition, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that consular teams had conducted field visits to Saudi hospitals to gather information on Egyptians receiving treatment, as well as the deceased, in order to inform their families.

The event attracted 1.8 million believers from across the world this year. Over 1,000 people, including at least 658 Egyptians, are believed to have died during the annual pilgrimage. Many fatalities were attributed to extreme heat, as temperatures in Mecca soared above 50 degrees Celsius. However, a statement from Egyptian authorities on Thursday confirmed that 31 deaths were due to chronic illnesses.

The Saudi meteorological center recorded a peak temperature of 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on June 17. A 2019 study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters revealed that, due to climate change, heat stress for Hajj pilgrims is expected to exceed the “extreme danger threshold” from 2047 to 2052.

June 24, 2024 at 03:55PM

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