“I searched in all the hospitals”: Yasser went to Mecca in hiding, unable to find his dead wife.

After years of trying to get permission for Hajj to Mecca, Yasser decided to do it illegally, something he deeply regrets today.

He has not seen his wife since Sunday, although he survived the sweltering rites held last week in western Saudi Arabia under extreme heat, and is feared to be among the more than 1,100 registered dead, as most Egyptians do not.

I searched all the hospitals in Makkah“, said the 60-year-old retired engineer, over the phone at his hotel, where he was reluctantly packing his wife’s suitcase.

More than half of the pilgrims who died during the great annual Muslim pilgrimage last week were from Egypt: 658 out of 1,100, according to data provided by about ten countries and embassies involved in research activities.

State Department statement:Many“American citizens died during the Hajj without providing further details. According to an Arab diplomat, the majority of Egyptians who died did not have the necessary authorization to access facilities during the pilgrimage, such as air-conditioned tents where worshipers rest. The temperature in the Grand Mosque in Mecca soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius.

In Saudi Arabia’s first comment on the deaths on Friday, a senior official defended the management of the pilgrimage and assured the state that “Did not fail“. According to him, authorities confirmed 577 deaths during the two busiest days of the Hajj: Saturday, when pilgrims gathered under a scorching sun on Mount Arafat, and Sunday, when they participated in the ritual “.stoning the devil“To Mina.

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This happened against the backdrop of difficult weather conditions and extreme temperaturesHe admitted that the figure of 577 was partial and did not include the full Hajj, which officially ended on Wednesday.

Ignore official circuits

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every Muslim who can afford it must do it at least once in their life. Permits are allocated based on quotas and then awarded by lottery in countries such as Egypt.

If they do get permission, pilgrims have to go through accredited service providers, which are often expensive. Therefore, many believers try to ignore official circuits. Yasser, an anonymous illegal alien, quickly understood the dangers of not having popular approval.

Even before the start of Hajj, some shops and restaurants refused to serve it. When the rituals started, he could not access the official buses.

But worse than that, he lost his wife Safa “in the crowd during the ceremony.stoning the devil“At Mina near Mecca. After that, he continued to postpone his return flight. Other illegal Egyptian pilgrims have described dramatic scenes on the believers’ route to Mina.

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“Egypt is sad”

There were dead bodies on the ground. I have seen people suddenly collapse and die of exhaustionMohammed, a 31-year-old Egyptian living in Saudi Arabia, said he had performed Hajj with his 56-year-old mother. Another Egyptian living in Riyadh says he saw his mother dead before an ambulance arrived. taken to an unknown location.

Even some registered pilgrims struggled to access emergency services, showing the system is overstretched, Mustafa says, as two elderly parents – who had their Hajj permits – died after being separated from their accompanying relatives.

We knew they were tired“, he says on the phone from Egypt.”They walked a lot, there was no water, it was very hot“.”We will never see them again.“”All Egypt is sadHe laments that his only consolation is that his parents are buried in Islam’s holiest city of Mecca.

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