Egyptian consular teams search for missing Haj pilgrims in Saudi hospitals

Cairo, Jun 20 (IANS/DPA): The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it has deployed consular teams in Mecca and the holy sites to find missing Egyptians, amid reports that hundreds have died due to intense heat during the Haj pilgrimage.

Consular teams are currently visiting hospitals to find Egyptian citizens receiving treatment or bodies of those who have passed away and match them with lists of people reported missing by their relatives, the ministry said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports said that hundreds of Egyptians died during the Haj. The privately-owned Masrawy website published a report under the headline "A terrifying toll," which included a list with names of 323 Egyptians who have reportedly died during the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

However, authorities have not released any official toll.

The foreign ministry said that since there is a large number of Egyptian pilgrims who are not registered with the official Haj database, it needs "double the effort and longer time to search for those missing and find their relatives."

The ministry said it will continue "to exert all efforts in coordination with the Saudi authorities to ensure finding the missing Egyptian citizens as quickly as possible," and secure their return back home.

Some 1.8 pilgrims took part in this year's Haj, one of the five pillars of Islam, which began in Mecca on Friday evening in blistering heat.

The temperature in Mecca and other nearby holy sites hovered around 50 degrees Celsius through Tuesday's final pilgrimage day.



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Title: Egyptian consular teams search for missing Haj pilgrims in Saudi hospitals

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