Reports: Hundreds of heat deaths during Hajj

There are different reports about the exact number of deaths, some of which contradict each other. While Saudi Arabia’s official figures put the death toll at around 90, according to an Arab diplomat, 600 deaths were reported among Egyptian pilgrims alone. According to him, another 800 pilgrims from Egypt are also missing.

A diplomatic official told AFP news agency on Wednesday that the deaths were due to the heat. According to the agency reports, a list circulating online has confirmed by insiders that there have been at least 600 heat deaths in total. A total of 900 people have died during the Hajj so far this year, according to AFP – organizations and media outlets in various countries have also reported death figures.

140 people died in Indonesia

The Indonesian Ministry of Health reported 144 Indonesian deaths. According to the Tunisian news agency Tunis Afrique Presse, 35 of the dead were Tunisian citizens. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said it had issued 41 burial permits to Jordanian pilgrims. The Iranian news agency IRINN reported eleven Iranians dead. According to the Senegal Press Agency, three Senegalese have died.

Also, more than 2,700 pilgrims were treated for heat-related illnesses, according to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health. According to a report by Arab News, the official health hotline received more than 47,000 emergency calls.

APA/AFP

Crowded in over 50 degree heat

More than 1.8 million pilgrims in temperatures above 50 degrees

The pilgrimage began in Mecca on Friday evening in scorching heat. According to the Saudi Meteorological Center, the Grand Mosque recorded a high of 51.8 degrees Celsius on Monday afternoon, and other holy sites in the region recorded similarly high temperatures.

Extreme weather

While individual extreme events cannot be directly traced to a specific cause, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, one thing is clear: the climate crisis is making extreme weather events like floods, storms and heat waves more frequent and more intense. This means rainfall and storms are getting stronger, heat waves are getting hotter and droughts are getting drier.

According to the Saudi Statistics Office, more than 1.8 million pilgrims participated this year. 88 percent of people from abroad came to Saudi Arabia for the multi-day event, one of Islam’s religious obligations.

Rituals as a challenge

The pilgrimage to Mecca is a pilgrimage for all Muslims to perform the religious rituals taught by the Prophet Muhammad to his followers 14 centuries ago. Every healthy Muslim who can afford it should undergo it at least once in a lifetime.

Hajj rituals follow a specific sequence. They begin with the tawaf around the black-covered cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, which millions of Muslims turn towards each day when they pray. On the second day, pilgrims walk about five kilometers from the Great Mosque to the great tent city of Mina, where they spend the night before gathering at Mount Arafat for the climax of the four-day ritual. Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his last sermon there.

The following day, the symbolic stoning of Satan takes place before the pilgrims return to Mecca to walk around the Kaaba. As the birthplace of the Prophet (ca. 570-632), Mecca is the holiest city for Muslims. At the end of the Hajj is the four-day Festival of Sacrifice (Id al-Adha).

Security guards spray mist on a pilgrim during Hajj

AP/Rabiq Maqbool

Devotees were asked to carry parasols and drink enough water

Rituals in the open air and on foot

Many rituals are performed outside and on foot, which is especially challenging for the elderly. The region is one of the hottest and driest in the world.

According to officials, 10,000 people were treated last year, ten percent of whom suffered from heat stroke. But over the past 30 years, hundreds of people have died on the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia – for example in mass panics, tent fires and other accidents.

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