New Delhi: A total of 21 Indian Hajis in Makkah and Madinah - the two holy cities in Saudi Arabia, for Haj 2015 have died so far due to various reasons mainly health related issues, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
"During Haj 2015, there have been 21 deaths so far of which 20 have been due to natural causes and 01 due to road accident. 19 of the deaths have occurred due to cardiac arrest and 01 due to COPD with respiratory failure", the ministry said.
A total number of 1,36,020 pilgrims are expected to take part in Haj 2015, of which 1,00,020 will be participating through Haj Committee of India and remaining 36,000 through Private Tour Operators. More than 40% of the pilgrims are above 60 years and of these, 13.5% are above 70 years.
Between Haj pilgrimage in 2009-2012 there were 250-300 deaths annually, due to natural causes.
The numbers have declined to 177 deaths in Haj 2013 and 152 deaths in Haj 2014, due to better treatment for pilgrims in High Risk Group and also a 20% reduction in overall quota for India.
"The fact that a very large number of pilgrims are above 60 and 70 years of age and are already facing several medical problems is the main reason for these deaths", the ministry said.
The Ministry of External Affairs and Consulate General of India have taken several steps to provide good medical facilities free of cost for Haj pilgrims.
"We have established a 40-bed hospital in Makkah, 40-bed hospital in Azizia and a 10-bed hospital in Madinah. There are also 13 branch dispensaries in Makkah and 5 branch dispensaries in Madinah which are all located close to the pilgrims’ accommodation and open round-the-clock", the ministry said.
Ministry of External Affairs has also dispatched medicines and medical equipment worth Rs. 2 crores for use in these hospitals and dispensaries, which is provided free of cost to Haj pilgrims.
"The Government has already deployed 134 doctors and 145 paramedics to provide specialised medical care. Steps are also taken to facilitate treatment in case of emergencies and also to arrange evacuation to India, if necessary", the ministry said.