577 Hajj pilgrims ‘succumb’ to Saudi Arabia’s intense heat this year

577 Hajj pilgrims

MAKKAH, JUN 19: At least 577 Hajj pilgrims have died in the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia due to the country’s soaring temperatures in the past few days, AFP reported.

According to the total figure that came from the hospital morgue in Makkah’s Al Muaisem neighbourhood, at least 550 pilgrims died during the Hajj pilgrimage this year due to the intense heat.

However, the total number of deaths reported by multiple countries so far brought the tally to 577, according to AFP.

Two Arab diplomats, coordinating their countries’ responses, revealed that among the pilgrims who died, 323 were Egyptians, most of whom succumbed to heat-related illnesses.

“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.

The diplomats maintained that at least 60 Jordanians also died, adding to the official tally of 41 given earlier on Tuesday by Amman.

The Hajj pilgrimage is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study published last month that said temperatures in the area where rituals are performed were rising 0.4°C each decade.

Temperatures hit 51.8°C at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Monday, the Saudi national meteorology centre said.

At least 240 pilgrims were reported dead by various countries last year, most of them were Indonesians.

Pilgrims in Mina, outside Makkah, on Monday were seen 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.

Some pilgrims described seeing motionless bodies on the roadside and ambulance services that appeared overwhelmed at times.

Around 1.8 million pilgrims took part in the Hajj this year, 1.6 million of them from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.