CAIRO: The number of deaths during this year's haj pilgrimage totaled 1,301 people, Saudi Arabia's health minister Fahad Al-Jalajel said on Sunday.

The minister, quoted by state television, said that deaths were caused by pilgrims "walking long distances under direct sunlight without adequate shelter or comfort".

Fatalities also included a number of elderly people and those suffering from chronic diseases. Some 83% of the fatalities were among people who were not authorized to make the pilgrimage, he said. (Reporting by Muhammad Al Gebaly and Ahmed Tolba; Editing by Angus MacSwan)