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You are here News International 'Only by God's mercy that I survived': Hajj became a death march for 1,300 in extreme heat

'Only by God's mercy that I survived': Hajj became a death march for 1,300 in extreme heat

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Mecca pilgrimageThe annual Muslim pilgrimage to the sacred city of Mecca that wrapped up last week became a death march for over 1,300 Hajj participants who died in temperatures that climbed above 124 degrees.

Saudi Arabia's health minister Fahad Al-Jalajel, who on Sunday announced a death total of 1,301, blamed the fatalities on pilgrims "walking long distances under direct sunlight without adequate shelter or comfort."

The 5-6 day odyssey of hiking and prayer drew almost 2 million pilgrims from around the world. Fatalities included a number of elderly people and those suffering from chronic diseases, A-Jalajel said. About  83% of the fatalities were among people who were not authorized to make the pilgrimage, he said.

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