Home FAITH Over 550 Pilgrims Killed By Heatstroke In Saudi Arabia As 2024 Hajj...

Over 550 Pilgrims Killed By Heatstroke In Saudi Arabia As 2024 Hajj Winds Up

No fewer than 550 pilgrims were reportedly killed mainly by heatstroke during the just concluded hajj in Saudi Arabia, according to Diplomats.
This situation is a result of what has been described as “the gruelling nature of this year’s pilgrimage” which unfolded in scorching temperatures this year.
Report said that at least 323 of those who died were Egyptians, most of them succumbing to heat-related illnesses.
The two Arab diplomats coordinating their countries’ responses told AFP that all of them (the Egyptians) died because of heat except for one who sustained fatal injuries during a minor crowd crush.
One of the diplomats said that the total figure came from the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighbourhood of Mecca.
The report said that at least 60 Jordanians also died, which was an addition to the earlier official figure of 41.
The new deaths bring the total reported so far by multiple countries to 577, according to an AFP tally.
The diplomats said that the total at the morgue in Al-Muaisem, one of the biggest in Mecca, was 550.
Earlier yesterday, June 18, Egypt’s foreign ministry said that Cairo was collaborating with Saudi authorities on search operations for Egyptians who had gone missing during the hajj.
A statement by the ministry said: “a certain number of deaths” had occurred, but did not specify whether Egyptians were among them.
Saudi Arabian authorities have reported treating more than 2,000 pilgrims suffering from heat stroke but have not updated that figure since Sunday and have not provided information on fatalities.
Pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must complete it at least once.
The pilgrimage is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study published last month, saying that temperatures in the area where rituals are performed were rising 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) each decade.
Temperatures hit 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Monday, June 17, according to the Saudi national meteorology.
AFP journalists in Mina, outside Mecca, on Monday saw pilgrims pouring bottles of water over their heads as volunteers handed out cold drinks and fast-melting chocolate ice cream to help them keep cool.
Saudi officials had advised pilgrims to use umbrellas, drink plenty of water and avoid exposure to the sun during the hottest hours of the day.
But many of the hajj rituals, including the prayers on Mount Arafat which took place on Saturday, involve being outdoors for hours in the daytime.
Some pilgrims described seeing motionless bodies on the roadside and ambulance services that appeared overwhelmed at times.
About 1.8 million pilgrims took part in the hajj this year, out of which 1.6 million of them were from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.
Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to perform the hajj without securing official hajj visas in order to save money, a more dangerous undertaking because these off-the-books pilgrims cannot access air-conditioned facilities provided by Saudi authorities along the hajj route.
One of the diplomats who spoke to AFP yesterday said that the Egyptian death toll was “absolutely” boosted by a large number of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims.
Earlier this month, Saudi officials said they had cleared hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca ahead of the hajj.
Other countries to report deaths during the hajj this year include Indonesia, Iran and Senegal.
Most countries have not specified how many deaths were heat-related.
Hosting the hajj is a source of prestige for the Saudi royal family, and King Salman’s title includes “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Saudi Health Minister, Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Al-Jalajel said yesterday that health plans for the hajj had “been successfully carried out,” preventing major outbreaks of disease and other public health threats, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
A virtual hospital “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.”
Source: AFP.

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