Over 1,300 pilgrims die amid extreme heat in Saudi Arabia

    WORLD  24 June 2024 - 10:09

    Saudi authorities have announced that over 1,300 pilgrims died during this year's Hajj pilgrimage due to extreme heat.

    Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel revealed that 83 per cent of the 1,301 fatalities were unauthorised pilgrims who endured long journeys on foot to Mecca, Caliber.Az writes, citing foreign media.

    Temperatures soared between 117 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit (46 to 49 degrees Celsius) during the pilgrimage, causing many to faint and collapse. The deceased were buried in Mecca, but identification was delayed as many lacked ID documents. Currently, 95 pilgrims are receiving hospital treatment, some airlifted to Riyadh.

    In response, Egypt revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies that facilitated unauthorized pilgrimages and referred officials to the public prosecutor for investigation. Unauthorized pilgrims, mostly Egyptians, used tourist visas, which left them without proper accommodations.

    Other affected countries include Indonesia, India, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Malaysia. The Associated Press reported seeing pilgrims fainting and collapsing from the heat, though the exact causes of death remain unconfirmed.

    This year's death toll is notably high compared to past incidents, highlighting the exceptional conditions faced during the pilgrimage. Historically, the Hajj has seen fatalities due to stampedes and epidemics, with the deadliest incident occurring in 2015, resulting in over 2,400 deaths.

    The Hajj, a key Islamic ritual, attracted over 1.83 million participants this year. Despite Saudi Arabia's extensive safety measures, the large number of attendees presents ongoing challenges, exacerbated by climate change. A 2019 MIT study predicts dangerous heat levels for future Hajj seasons unless global climate efforts succeed.

    Caliber.Az

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