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Egypt’s health minister heads to Saudi on hajj stampede recovery mission

Egypt's health delegation in Saudi Arabia to provide all the necessary care, identifying the deceased, and investigate the cases of pilgrims still unaccounted for

Ahram Online , Wednesday 30 Sep 2015
Mecca
Emergency services attend to victims crushed in a crowd in Mina, Saudi Arabia during the annual hajj pilgrimage on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.( Photo : AP)
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Cabinet Spokesperson Hossam El-Qawish said that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail dispatched newly appointed Egyptian health and population minister Ahmed Emad El-Din Rady to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in order to join Egypt's official hajj delegation, Ahram Arabic news website reported.

According to El-Qawish, the minister aims to intensify efforts to follow up with Egyptian pilgrims especially after Mena's stampede that left hundreds of pilgrims dead last Wednesday.

The number of Egyptian pilgrims confirmed as being killed in the deadly stampede in Mecca last week has risen to 78 on Tuesday, while 98 others are unaccounted for.

El-Qawish added that efforts are being made by Egypt's health delegation in Saudi Arabia to provide all the necessary care for injured pilgrims, as well as to facilitate the procedures for them to return to Egypt, while also identifying the deceased, and investigating the cases of pilgrims still unaccounted for.

Rady is expected to meet his Saudi counterpart Khaled al-Falih in order to coordinate efforts related to providing the needed medical facilities for the injured.

On Sunday, Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, head of Egypt's official hajj delegation, said that the delegation would announce on Wednesday the final death toll of Egyptians in the current hajj season, adding that the numbers would include those who died in the Mena stampede, those who were killed in the Grand Mosque of Mecca crane disaster in early September, as well as those who died of natural causes.

According to Saudi authorities, the death toll in the Mena stampede has reached 769 as of Saturday with at least 934 injured.

The Saudi authorities have opened an official investigation into the stampede, and vowed to review hajj regulations.

Last week's stampede occurred as pilgrims converged on the site of Mena just outside Mecca to take part in the symbolic stoning of the devil that marks the last day of the hajj.

Almost two million pilgrims took part in the stoning ritual this year, with an estimated 62,000 Egyptians performing hajj in 2015.

Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, should be performed at least once by every Muslim who can afford the trip.
 

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