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Filipina hajj pilgrim among over 1,000 dead from heat stroke

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A 37-year-old Filipina pilgrim died from extreme heat during the annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia, where the death toll already exceeded 1,000, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh said Thursday.

Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Rommel Romato confirmed that the Filipina passed away on June 16 “due to extreme weather conditions.”

“Though medical attention was provided at a Makkah hospital, she did not survive,” he said.

The Filipina, who hailed from Western Mindanao, was an overseas Filipino worker based in Saudi Arabia and was not part of the Hajj delegation organized by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

Romato said the Philippine Embassy and Consulate General hajj assistance teams, as well as the Migrant Workers Office in Jeddah coordinated her burial in Makkah on June 19.

Based on the data from the NCMF Hajj supervisory team, at least 5,060 Filipino pilgrims are participating in this year’s Hajj, excluding roughly 200 NCMF support staff.

The new deaths reported Thursday included 58 from Egypt, according to an Arab diplomat who provided a breakdown showing that of 658 Egyptians who died, 630 were unregistered pilgrims.

Around 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims with the means must complete at least once.

Of the fatalities, more than half were unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat in Saudi Arabia.

The hajj, whose timing is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, fell again this year during the oven-like Saudi summer.

The national meteorological center reported a high of 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) this week at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims try to join the hajj through irregular channels as they cannot afford the often costly official permits.

Saudi authorities reported clearing hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca this month, but it appears many still participated in the main rites which began last Friday.

This group was more vulnerable, because without official permits they could not access air-conditioned spaces provided for the 1.8 million authorized pilgrims to cool down. AFP


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