Haj Deaths: Egypt Govt Withdraws Operating Licenses Of 16 Travel Agency Companies

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The Egyptian government has withdrawn the operating licenses of 16 travel agency companies and referred them to the public prosecutor.

The government accused them of being responsible for the deaths of Egyptian pilgrims in Mecca.

This was announced by a crisis unit tasked to address the situation over the weekend.

Medical and security sources said at least 530 Egyptians died during this year’s haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

According to a statement from the unit last week Thursday headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, said that 31 deaths were confirmed as a result of chronic illness.

It was gathered that the tourism companies which facilitated the travel of those who died did not provide them with services of any kind, including medical.

“The agencies are being blamed for sending pilgrims to Saudi on personal visit visas, rather than haj visas that allow access to Mecca where haj rituals take place.

The statement reads: “Medical services offered by Saudi authorities to alleviate the hardships of the pilgrimage are not offered to those travelling with a personal visa.

“The pilgrims who died had to walk through the desert into Mecca to avoid arrest or deportation,” the statement added.

Egyptian authorities also said those travel agencies did not provide the pilgrims with “appropriate accommodation,” adding that this caused pilgrims’ “exhaustion due to the high temperatures.”

It also said it documented 31 deaths among registered Egyptian pilgrims, citing “chronic diseases” as the cause of death.

In recent days hundreds of people from different countries have died in punishing conditions for the haj pilgrimage in the Saudi city, where temperatures have at times exceeded 51 degrees Celsius (124 Fahrenheit).