“O The State did not fail, but there was an error of judgment on the part of people who did not measure the risks involved,” the official told the news agency France-Presse (AFP), in the first official reaction to the high number of deaths.

A count prepared today by the AFP, based on official statements and information provided by diplomats, estimated the death toll at 1,119, more than half of which were Egyptian pilgrims.

The Saudi official, who requested anonymity, added that Saudi authorities confirmed 577 deaths on the two busiest days of the ‘hajj’ (pilgrimage to Mecca): Saturday, when pilgrims gathered for hours of prayer under a scorching sun on Mount Arafat, and Sunday, when participating in the “stoning of the devil” ritual in Mina.

“This happened in a context of difficult weather conditions and very severe temperatures”, said the official, acknowledging that the number of 577 was partial and did not cover the entire ‘hajj’, which officially ended on Wednesday.

The ‘hajj’ is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims who can afford it must do it at least once in their lives.

Saudi authorities previously said that 1.8 million pilgrims had participated this year, a similar total to last year, and that 1.6 million came from abroad.

Permits to participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca are allocated to countries according to a quota system.

Even for those who manage to obtain them, the high costs of travel end up making alternative access routes more attractive.

“We can estimate the number of unregistered pilgrims at around 400,000,” the Saudi official said today.

“Most of them are of one nationality,” the official added, presumably referring to Egypt.

Earlier this week, Arab diplomats told AFP that Egypt had recorded 658 deaths, including 630 unregistered pilgrims.

Read Also: Nineteen faithful die in the great annual pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

Source: https://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/2584475/riade-diz-nao-ter-responsabilidades-na-morte-de-mil-peregrinos-em-meca

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