Over 550 Pilgrims Die in Mecca Due to Blazing Heat

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Over 550 Pilgrims Die in Mecca Due to Blazing Heat

| Updated: June 19, 2024 15:21

At least 550 pilgrims have tragically lost their lives during the hajj pilgrimage, with the majority succumbing to heat-related illnesses, according to diplomats on Tuesday. Among the deceased, 323 were Egyptians, with most of them reportedly falling victim to the scorching temperatures. The information was shared by two Arab diplomats coordinating responses from their respective countries, as reported by AFP.

The diplomats revealed that the fatalities were primarily due to the intense heat, with only one Egyptian pilgrim passing away from injuries sustained in a minor crowd crush. The total death toll was confirmed by the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighborhood of Mecca, where the bodies were taken.

In addition to the Egyptian casualties, at least 60 Jordanians also lost their lives during the pilgrimage, an increase from the earlier official count of 41 reported by Amman. The total number of deaths reported by various countries now stands at 577, according to an AFP tally.

The hajj pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam, is becoming increasingly challenging due to climate change. A recent Saudi study highlighted a steady rise in temperatures in the area where the rituals are performed, emphasizing the impact of climate change on the pilgrimage.

Temperatures soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Monday, as confirmed by the Saudi national meteorology center. The extreme heat led to over 2,000 pilgrims suffering from heat stress, with Saudi authorities yet to provide updates on the situation.

While Saudi officials have advised pilgrims to take precautions such as using umbrellas, staying hydrated, and avoiding sun exposure during peak hours, the nature of the hajj rituals, which involve spending extended periods outdoors, poses significant challenges.

The hajj this year saw around 1.8 million pilgrims participating, with 1.6 million coming from foreign countries, as per Saudi authorities. Despite efforts to regulate the pilgrimage, unregistered pilgrims attempting the hajj through unofficial channels continue to pose risks due to the lack of access to essential facilities provided by the Saudi authorities.

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