Muslim pilgrims arrive to circle the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. Millions of Muslims have arrived in the kingdom to participate in the annual hajj pilgrimage, which starts Saturday, a ritual required of all able-bodied Muslims at least once in their life. ( Photo: AP).
The number of Egyptian pilgrims who have died in Saudi Arabia has climbed to 13, an interior ministry official said Thursday.
Officials had earlier said that all the cases died of natural causes, including heat exhaustion, high blood pressure and hypertension.
So far, around 86,000 Egyptian pilgrims have landed in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, an interior ministry aide and head of the Egyptian hajj mission was quoted by the state news agency MENA as saying.
The hajj and lesser umrah pilgrimages bring millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia from around the globe every year.
The annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca will officially start Saturday.
Fatalities due to heat exhaustion, fatigue and other natural causes are common. Fatal crowd stampedes are also regular occurences due to the volume of pilgrims along the pilgrimage route.
Saudi media reported that authorities have undertaken new safety measures after more than 2,000 died in a stampede last year. This includes having pilgrims wear electronic safety bracelets.
One of the five pillars of Islam, the hajj must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all Muslims who can afford the costly and difficult trip.