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More than 1K die in haj amid scorching temperatures

REUTERS/MOHAMMED TOROKMAN / JUNE 18
                                Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they perform Tawaf at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
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REUTERS/MOHAMMED TOROKMAN / JUNE 18

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as they perform Tawaf at the Grand Mosque, during the annual haj pilgrimage, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

CAIRO/RIYADH >> More than 1,000 people died during haj this year, according to a Reuters tally, as extreme heat hammered the nearly two million who took part in the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Most of the dead were Egyptians. Security and medical sources told Reuters on Sunday that the Egyptian death toll had risen to 672 and another 25 were missing.

A total of 236 Indonesians died, according to Indonesian government data, while India’s External Affairs agency said 98 Indian citizens died during haj.

Further deaths were reported by Tunisia, Jordan, Iran, and Senegal, making this year’s total toll at least 1,114 people, according to a Reuters tally.

An Egyptian crisis unit tasked with investigating the situation said on Saturday it has suspended licences of 16 tourism companies and referred them to the public prosecutor, accusing them of being responsible for deaths it said were mainly among pilgrims not registered under the official system.

The unit said 31 deaths were confirmed as a result of chronic illness among officially registered pilgrims.

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