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98 Indians Die During Hajj in Saudi Arabia, All Due to Natural Causes

The Indian government confirmed today that 98 Indian pilgrims have died in Saudi Arabia during this year’s Hajj, attributing the deaths to “natural causes.”

The Foreign Ministry reported that up to now, 1,75,000 Indians have participated in the Hajj pilgrimage. “We are committed to providing all possible support to the Indians there,” the government assured.

Globally, around 10 countries have reported a total of 1,081 deaths during the pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim with the means must undertake at least once in their lifetime. The timing of the Hajj, based on the lunar Islamic calendar, coincides with the extreme Saudi summer.

The pilgrimage, which involves extensive walking and prayers, has been challenging this year with temperatures in Saudi Arabia reaching 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) this week.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that heat-related deaths are responsible for at least half a million fatalities annually, though it warns that the actual number could be up to 30 times higher.

In response, the Union Health Ministry has introduced a comprehensive plan for healthcare services for pilgrims. This includes updating medical screening procedures and fitness certifications for Hajj applicants in India, issuing health cards to selected pilgrims, organizing vaccination camps across states, establishing health desks at embarkation points, deploying healthcare personnel, and setting up medical facilities at various Hajj sites.

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