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2024 Hajj death toll rises to 550 amid scorching heat



2024 Hajj Deaths Rise to 550 Amid Heat Wave

The 2024 Hajj in Saudi Arabia has claimed the lives of at least 550 pilgrims, with the ceremony taking place in intense heat.

According to two Arab ambassadors coordinating their countries’ responses, 323 Egyptians died from ailments brought on by the heat.

“All of them [the Egyptians] died because of heat,” except for one individual who died from injuries sustained in a minor crowd crush, said one diplomat.

The total count was derived from the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighbourhood of Mecca.

Additionally, 60 Jordanians have died, an increase from the 41 reported earlier by Amman, bringing the total number of reported deaths to 577, according to an AFP tally.

The morgue in Al-Muaisem alone recorded 550 fatalities.

The Hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars, requires all Muslims with the means to complete it at least once.

However, the pilgrimage is increasingly impacted by climate change. A recent Saudi study noted that temperatures in the area where rituals are performed have been rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade.

On Monday, temperatures at the Grand Mosque in Mecca reached 51.8°C, according to Saudi National Meteorology.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s foreign ministry announced a collaboration with Saudi authorities to search for Egyptians missing during the pilgrimage. While confirming some deaths, the statement did not specify the number of Egyptian fatalities.

TopNaija recalled that Nigeria lost two more pilgrims from Kwara State presently engaged in the continuous Hajj activities in Saudi Arabia.

With the two Kwara pilgrims dead, the total number of Nigerian pilgrims killed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came to 11.

Saudi authorities reported treating over 2,000 pilgrims for heat stress but have not updated this figure since Sunday, nor provided information on the total fatalities. Last year, 240 pilgrims, mostly Indonesians, died.

AFP journalists in Mina observed pilgrims attempting to cool off by pouring water over their heads while volunteers distributed cold drinks and ice cream. Despite advisories to use umbrellas and stay hydrated, many rituals require extended periods outdoors during peak heat.

Approximately 1.8 million pilgrims participated in this year’s Hajj, with 1.6 million coming from abroad. Many pilgrims, unable to afford the official Hajj procedures, attempt the pilgrimage through irregular channels, placing them at greater risk due to lack of access to air-conditioned facilities.

The Egyptian death toll was reportedly exacerbated by a large number of unregistered pilgrims. “Irregular pilgrims caused great chaos in the Egyptian pilgrims’ camps, causing the collapse of services,” an Egyptian official stated, noting that many died from heat exposure due to lack of shelter.

Earlier this month, Saudi authorities cleared hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca in preparation for the Hajj.

Countries including Indonesia, Iran, and Senegal also reported deaths, though most have not specified how many were heat-related. Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Al-Jalajel stated that health plans for the Hajj were successfully implemented, preventing major disease outbreaks and public health threats.

Virtual consultations for over 5,800 pilgrims helped address heat-related illnesses, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

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