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More than 1 300 people die during Hajj, many of them after walking in the scorching heat

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By Associated Press 


CAIRO — More than 1,300 people died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as the faithful faced extreme high temperatures at Islamic holy sites in the desert kingdom, Saudi authorities announced Sunday.

Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel said that 83% of the 1,301 fatalities were unauthorized pilgrims who walked long distances in soaring temperatures to perform the Hajj rituals in and around the holy city of Mecca.

Speaking with the state-owned Al Ekhbariya TV, the minister said 95 pilgrims were being treated in hospitals, some of whom were airlifted for treatment in the capital, Riyadh.

He said the identification process was delayed because there were no identification documents with many of the dead pilgrims.

He said the dead were buried in Mecca, without giving a breakdown.

The fatalities included more than 660 Egyptians. All but 31 of them were unauthorized pilgrims, according to two officials in Cairo.

Egypt has revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies that helped unauthorized pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia, authorities said.