Hajj Pilgrim, 45-Stone Woman, Winched Into Ambulance To Complete Mecca Pilgrimage

Hajj is the sacred journey that all Muslims are instructed to make before they die.

And one 45-stone Egyptian woman was so determined to reach the destination of Saudi Arabia's Mount Arafat, she had to be winched into a special ambulance to complete the journey.

An Indian Muslim woman stands and prays along with the others falling on their faces during a special prayer to mark the beginning of Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca

Egypt's state-run news agency Mena said eight police officers and personnel from the Egyptian Hajj Mission were involved in the operation to help the 67-year-old reach the mountain, where the prophet Mohammad is said to have made his farewell sermon.

Police said that a crane had to be used to winch the woman into the special vehicle, from her hotel in Mecca, so she could reach the mountain.

More than one million people are taking part in the pilgrimage, much less than last year, as fears of a respiratory virus are keeping people away.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef said pilgrims from outside the country were down 21% on last year's 1.75 million.