The official death toll for this year’s hajj pilgrimage has reached nearly 500 / the death toll could be double, with reports suggesting 600 Egyptians died en route to Mecca.

The official death toll for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage has reached nearly 500, and the actual number may be twice as high as reports emerged that 600 Egyptian pilgrims died en route to Mecca amid extreme heat, according to CNN.

At least 14 Malaysians, 165 Indonesians, 68 Jordanians, 35 Pakistanis, 35 Tunisians, 11 Iranians and 98 Indians died, according to officials in each country. Another 22 Jordanians have been hospitalized and 16 are still missing, according to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.

Dozens of Iranians have been hospitalized with heat stroke and other illnesses, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency, the Iranian Red Crescent reported on Wednesday.

According to a CNN count, the death toll on this year’s pilgrimage is at least 460.

The death toll is expected to rise much higher as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have yet to release official figures. Also, governments are only aware of pilgrims who have registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota – with fears of more deaths among unregistered pilgrims. More precisely, 600 Egyptians are reported to have died on the way to Mecca.

Pilgrims undertook the journey this year in dangerously high temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius.

According to the Egyptian president, the crisis unit will be headed by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli and will “provide support to the families of the dead”.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi instructed the unit to quickly coordinate with Saudi authorities to facilitate the return of the bodies of the dead.

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The official Egyptian death toll stands at 28, according to a statement from the Egyptian cabinet on Thursday. However, Reuters and other media have widely reported that 500 to 600 Egyptians died this way.

Egyptian officials said they were working to gather an accurate number of victims and missing persons. This discrepancy is due to the large number of unregistered pilgrims who are not counted among those who registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota.

Thousands were treated for heatstroke after 1.8 million Muslims braved the sweltering temperatures.

The Saudi Ministry of Health implemented safety measures, including cooling stations along the official route, and urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and stay hydrated, the Associated Press reported. Despite these measures, this year’s event was overshadowed by tragedy, raising questions about whether more could have been done to keep people safe.

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