WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now

At Least 550 Hajj Pilgrims Die, Mostly Due to Heat, Say Arab Diplomats

Riyadh, June 19: Arab diplomats have reported that at least 550 Hajj pilgrims died during this year’s pilgrimage, with the majority succumbing to heat-related illnesses. The grueling nature of the pilgrimage, which again unfolded under scorching temperatures, has underscored the severe conditions faced by the pilgrims.

Among the deceased, at least 323 were Egyptians, with most deaths attributed to heat stress. One Egyptian diplomat indicated that all but one of these deaths were due to heat, with the exception being a fatal injury from a minor crowd crush. The total figures were confirmed through the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighborhood of Mecca.

In addition to the Egyptian fatalities, at least 60 Jordanians also died, according to the diplomats. This new figure is an increase from the official tally of 41 given earlier by Jordanian authorities. The overall death toll, reported by multiple countries, has reached 577 according to an AFP tally, with the morgue in Al-Muaisem confirming 550 deaths.

The Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, requires all Muslims with the means to complete it at least once in their lifetime. However, the pilgrimage is increasingly impacted by climate change. A recent Saudi study noted that temperatures in the ritual areas are rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade, with temperatures hitting a record 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egypt’s foreign ministry confirmed ongoing collaboration with Saudi authorities to locate missing Egyptian pilgrims. Although the ministry acknowledged “a certain number of deaths,” it did not specify if Egyptians were among them.

Saudi authorities have treated over 2,000 pilgrims for heat stress, but have not updated these figures or provided information on fatalities since Sunday. Last year, 240 pilgrims died, mostly Indonesians, highlighting the recurring challenge of managing health crises during the Hajj.

This year, around 1.8 million pilgrims participated in the Hajj, with 1.6 million coming from abroad. Despite advisories to use umbrellas, drink water, and avoid sun exposure, many rituals necessitate prolonged outdoor activity, exacerbating heat risks.

The situation is particularly dire for pilgrims who enter through irregular channels, unable to afford official visas and thus lacking access to air-conditioned facilities. An Egyptian official noted that unregistered pilgrims, including many Egyptians, contributed to service collapses, leading to deaths from heat exposure due to a lack of shelter, food, and water.

Back to top button