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Off-loaded Sri Lankan pilgrim set to leave Riyadh

The Haj pilgrim who was off-loaded in Riyadh from a flight bound to Colombo from Jeddah on Friday will be discharged from the hospital within the next few days, a senior official from the Sri Lankan Embassy here told Arab News on Tuesday.
The Sri Lankan Airlines flight, which was transporting Haj pilgrims back home, was forced to make an emergency landing at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh after a Haj pilgrim complained of severe chest pain.
The diplomat said that Thajudeen Packeer, 65, began suffering from severe breathing difficulties after the flight took off from Jeddah.
The patient and the leader of his Haj group, Ameen Travels, were offloaded at Riyadh’s airport and the patient was admitted to Kingdom Hospital in Riyadh.
“The passenger is currently being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital and will be moved to the general ward on Wednesday prior to his departure back home,” he said.
“Flight UL282 was diverted within an hour of take-off after a Haj pilgrim complained of severe chest pain,” said Ruwan Wijekone, Sri Lankan Airlines manager in Riyadh.
A Maldivian doctor, who was a Haj pilgrim on board, had advised the crew to land at the nearest airport for emergency medical treatment.
A total of 2,300 pilgrims went for Haj from Colombo on a reduced quota given by the Saudi government this year. Last year, some 3,500 pilgrims had performed Haj. The quota was reduced due to the ongoing construction works at Makkah.
Adam Bawa Uthuma Lebbe, Sri Lanka’s consul-general in Jeddah, said there was only one death among this year’s pilgrims from Colombo.
The death was due to natural causes and the deceased was buried in Madinah before Eid, he said.

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