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14 die in extreme heat during Muslim Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

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At least 14 people from Jordan have died in extreme heat during the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, officials said on Sunday.

A further 17 people are missing, the Jordanian foreign ministry said on Sunday, according to the state agency Petra.

The ministry had initially confirmed the deaths of six Jordanian pilgrims who had suffered heatstroke.

A search is under way for the 17 missing persons. Work was also underway to transfer the bodies to Jordan and bury them.

The pilgrimage began in Mecca on Friday evening in blistering heat.

In view of the extreme temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius, the authorities called on the faithful to carry parasols. They were also advised not to stay outside during the particularly hot midday period and to drink plenty of water.

Last year, around 2 million pilgrims took part in the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the five basic duties of Islam.

Buses and trains are used to help transport the many worshippers to the holy sites, but the large crowds and intense heat still pose a challenge for pilgrims and law enforcement officers.

In recent decades, there have also been several major tragedies with hundreds of deaths due to crowding.

Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand mosque in the holy city of Mecca, during the Hajj pilgrimage. Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam that must be carried out by all adult Muslims at least once in their lifetime. It takes place in the last month of the Islamic calendar. -/Saudi Press Agency/dpa

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