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Saudi Arabia: 54 pilgrims die in Makkah before Hajj

16th Aug 2017
Saudi Arabia: 54 pilgrims die in Makkah before Hajj

By Fares Karam

 

RIYADH (AA): At least 54 Muslim pilgrims have died so far in Saudi Arabia’s city of Makkah in advance of this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage, which is set to begin on Aug. 30, Saudi authorities announced Tuesday.

The authorities, however, have yet to provide reasons for the pilgrims’ deaths, or their respective nationalities.

Since July 24, Muslims have converged on the holy city — from all over the world — to perform the pilgrimage, which this year will begin on Aug. 30 and conclude on Sept. 4.

As of Monday, almost 729,000 pilgrims had arrived to the city, with hundreds of thousands more expected to come in days and weeks ahead.

During last year’s pilgrimage, almost 1.9 million pilgrims visited Mecca, according to official Saudi figures.

In January, Riyadh unveiled plans to increase the city’s pilgrim capacity after four consecutive years of declining numbers due mainly to the ongoing renovation of Makkah’s Grand Mosque Complex.

During the 2015 Hajj season, hundreds of pilgrims were killed in a deadly stampede near Makkah.

Tehran later blamed the tragedy on alleged mismanagement by the Saudi authorities, saying most of those killed had been Iranian nationals.

[Archive photo: Stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia during Hajj pilgrimage on 24 September, 2015. Photogrpher: Ozkan Bilgin/AA]

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