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Over 550 Hajj pilgrims die in Mecca as temperatures soar above 50 degrees

The ambassadors reported that at least 60 Jordanians also perished, surpassing the official count of 41 that Amman had earlier on Tuesday announced.

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Annesha Barua -- June 19th 2024 08:32 AM
Over 550 Hajj pilgrims die in Mecca as temperatures soar above 50 degrees

Over 550 Hajj pilgrims die in Mecca as temperatures soar above 50 degrees

PTC News Desk: According to diplomats on Tuesday, at least 550 pilgrims lost their lives while doing the hajj, highlighting the arduous nature of the journey that took place in sweltering heat this year.

According to two Arab ambassadors coordinating their countries' responses, at least 323 Egyptians lost their lives, the most of them from heat-related ailments.

One of the diplomats stated, "All of them (the Egyptians) died because of heat," with the exception of one who died from injuries he received in a small crowd crush. The overall number of deaths was derived from the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighborhood of Mecca.

The ambassadors reported that at least 60 Jordanians also perished, surpassing the official count of 41 that Amman had earlier on Tuesday announced. An AFP count puts the number of deaths recorded by various countries up to 577 with the addition of these latest deaths.

According to the diplomats, there were 550 people overall at the largest morgue in Mecca, located at Al-Muaisem. One of the five pillars of Islam is the hajj, which every Muslim who has the means to do so must perform at least once.

A Saudi report released last month claimed that the trip is becoming more and more impacted by climate change, with temperatures in the pilgrimage area rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) every ten years.

The Saudi National Meteorological Center reported that on Monday, temperatures in the Grand Mosque in Mecca reached 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit).

Heat stress

Egypt's foreign ministry had earlier on Tuesday said that Cairo was working with Saudi authorities to look for Egyptians who had vanished during the hajj.

A statement from the ministry stated that "a certain number of deaths" had happened, although it did not say if Egyptians were among them. The Saudi authorities have stated that they are treating over 2,000 pilgrims who are experiencing heat exhaustion; however, they have not updated this number since Sunday and have not disclosed any information regarding fatalities.

Last year, at least 240 pilgrims—mostly from Indonesia—were reported deceased by several nations. Reporters from AFP observed pilgrims in Mina, outside of Mecca, on Monday dousing themselves in water bottles while volunteers provided them with chilled beverages and chocolate ice cream that melted quickly to keep cool.

Pilgrims were instructed by Saudi officials to carry umbrellas, stay hydrated, and stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day. But spending hours outside during the day is a requirement of several hajj rites, including as the prayers on Mount Arafat that were performed on Saturday.

Some pilgrims reported witnessing lifeless bodies at the side of the road and occasionally feeling overrun by medical services. Saudi authorities estimate that approximately 1.8 million pilgrims performed the hajj this year, with 1.6 million coming from outside the country.

Unregistered Travellers

Tens of thousands of pilgrims seek to complete the hajj through unofficial means every year because they are unable to pay the very expensive processes required to obtain official hajj visas.

Due to their inability to use the air-conditioned facilities that Saudi authorities have supplied along the hajj route, these unreported pilgrims are put in danger.

A diplomat who talked with AFP on Tuesday claimed that a significant number of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims had "absolutely" increased the number of Egyptian deaths.

An Egyptian official overseeing the nation's hajj mission claimed that "irregular pilgrims caused great chaos in the Egyptian pilgrims' camps, causing the collapse of services."

"The pilgrims went without food, water, or air conditioning for a long time." "The majority of people had no place" to seek refuge, so many died from the heat.

Prior to the hajj, hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims were removed from Mecca, according to Saudi officials earlier this month. Senegal, Indonesia, and Iran are among the other nations that have reported hajj-related fatalities this year.

The majority of nations have not disclosed the number of deaths linked to heat. According to the official Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Al-Jalajel declared on Tuesday that health preparations for the hajj had "been successfully carried out," averting significant illness outbreaks and other hazards to public health.

Health professionals "provided virtual consultations to over 5,800 pilgrims, primarily for heat-related illnesses, enabling prompt intervention and mitigating the potential for a surge in cases," according to SPA.

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- With inputs from agencies

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