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Haj pilgrims flown home after mix-up.

MORE than 60 Haj pilgrims were flown back home to Bahrain yesterday after a mix-up with permits left them stranded at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

They were part of a group of approximately 100 pilgrims from two different caravans who had not been registered properly prior to their departure, according to Haj and Umrah Affairs chief Shaikh Abdul Nasser Abdullah.

However, around 40 of them were eventually given permission to enter Saudi Arabia following the intervention of the Bahrain Haj Mission.

"These passengers were not registered on our system, which means that they did not have permission to enter Mecca," Shaikh Abdul Nasser told the GDN.

"This also means that they were not registered with the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry.

"Without this registration, no passenger is licensed to enter the holy land for performing Haj and thus they

were stranded.

"The airlines flew back those who could not get permission, while we managed to get some of them permission."

Online reports citing a passenger in one of the groups stated that they had been stranded in Jeddah from 8pm on Tuesday until early yesterday morning.

More than 300 pilgrims from Bahrain have now entered Mecca since the first group left on Monday, Shaikh Abdul Nasser added.

Bahrain Haj Mission chief Dr Ali Al Baqqara said the clinic in Mecca had received around 60 patients. "There were no cases of any serious concern - all of them were normal cold and weather related uneasiness," he told the GDN from Mecca.

"However, we are ready and equipped to meet any eventuality, including concerns about Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus."

Meanwhile, a Bahrain International Airport spokesman said that they were "well-prepared" to cope with the influx of passengers expected during Haj season.

"We have additional staff on duty round the clock and more flights ready if needed," he said.

"There are also more counters being set up for Haj pilgrims.

"We do not have any information of the group stuck in Jeddah, however, it is expected that every year some tour operators do not fully complete the licensing process or fall into some pitfalls in that area which leads to such issues."

raji@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Sep 25, 2014
Words:383
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