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Pilgrims brave heavy rain on Sunday as annual Haj begins

Nearly two million pilgrims from around the world braved the rain in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to begin the annual Haj.
The downpour started just after dusk and lasted for less than an hour with everything returning to normal shortly afterwards.

Worshippers arrived in the kingdom last week for the five-day ritual — a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for  every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms forced pilgrims to take cover in tents and trudge through puddles, with civil defence warning of possible flooding throughout the evening.

The official UAE news agency WAM tweeted at 12.01am on Monday that all pilgrims from the United Arab Emirates are fine, quoting the head of the Haj mission, Dr Mohammad Mattar Al Kaabi.
The agency also quoted the Saudi General Meteorological and Environmental Protection Agency, which issued a warning to pilgrims against sitting on mountain tops due to high winds.
Some prayed at the Grand Mosque before heading to the Mina area or towards Mount Arafat, east of Makkah.
They will all arrive by Monday morning at Mount Arafat.
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Lost in translation? Not for Haj pilgrims
Eid Al Adha, or feast of the sacrifice, begins on Tuesday, when pilgrims begin three days of casting stones at walls in a symbolic renunciation of the devil.
The authorities have been preparing for months to ensure pilgrims’ safety, Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah told Reuters, with more than 30,000 health workers operating 25 hospitals and offering free medical services, including complex procedures such as open heart surgery.
“Praise to God, everything now is under control and health conditions are excellent,” he said in an interview at Mina Public Hospital.
The potential for disease spreading among pilgrims, who spend five days in close quarters, often eating outside and sleeping on the ground near holy sites, is a perennial concern.

Source: Gulf News

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