Death Toll Of Hajj Pilgrimage Rises To 1300 With Extreme Temperatures Surging Continuously

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Daily News, Environmental News

Home » Environmental News » Death Toll Of Hajj Pilgrimage Rises To 1300 With Extreme Temperatures Surging Continuously

More than 1,300 people have died during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, facing extremely high temperatures. Saudi authorities announced the tragic toll on Sunday. The deaths occurred as pilgrims gathered at Islamic holy sites in the desert kingdom.

Hajj Pilgrimage

Unauthorized Pilgrims Most Affected

Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel reported that 83% of the 1,301 fatalities were unauthorized pilgrims. These individuals walked long distances in soaring temperatures to perform the Hajj rituals around the holy city of Mecca.

Speaking to state-owned television, the minister revealed that 95 pilgrims were receiving hospital treatment. Some were airlifted to Riyadh for advanced care. The identification process of many deceased was delayed due to the lack of identification documents.

The casualties included more than 660 Egyptians, mostly unauthorized pilgrims. Egyptian authorities have since revoked the licenses of 16 travel agencies that facilitated unauthorized travel to Saudi Arabia. Officials stated that most deaths occurred at the Emergency Complex in Mecca’s Al-Muaisem neighborhood.

Saudi authorities took strict measures against unauthorized pilgrims, expelling tens of thousands. Despite these efforts, many, predominantly Egyptians, reached Mecca on foot.

These unauthorized pilgrims had no access to hotels, leaving them vulnerable to the intense heat. Egypt’s government criticized 16 travel agencies for inadequate services. They called them off for illegal facilitation of pilgrimages using inappropriate visas. Officials from these companies are now facing investigation.

Travel agencies and Hajj trip operators sold Saudi tourist visas to hopeful Egyptian pilgrims, violating regulations that require exclusive visas for the Hajj. As a result, many pilgrims were stranded in Mecca in the scorching heat.

Global Impact and Historical Context of Hajj Pilgrimage

The fatalities also included 165 pilgrims from Indonesia and 98 from India. It also includes dozens more from Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Malaysia. Two U.S. citizens were also among the dead.

Though the exact causes of death are unconfirmed, countries like Jordan and Tunisia attributed many deaths to the extreme heat. AP journalists observed pilgrims fainting, vomiting, and collapsing due to the intense temperatures.

Historically, deaths during the Hajj are not uncommon, given the event’s scale. Over 2 million people often travel to Saudi Arabia for the five-day pilgrimage. It has experienced deadly stampedes and epidemics.

This year’s death toll was notably high, suggesting exceptional circumstances. In 2015, a stampede in Mina resulted in over 2,400 deaths, the deadliest incident in Hajj history. A crane collapse at Mecca’s Grand Mosque the same year killed 111. Another deadly stampede in 1990 claimed 1,426 lives.

During this year’s Hajj, daily high temperatures ranged between 46°C and 49°C in Mecca and surrounding sacred sites. The Saudi National Center for Meteorology revealed this data. The extreme heat caused some pilgrims to faint while performing rituals.

The Hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars, is one of the world’s largest religious gatherings. Over 1.83 million Muslims participated in the 2024 Hajj. It includes more than 1.6 million from 22 countries and around 222,000 Saudi citizens and residents.

Saudi Arabia has invested billions in crowd control and safety measures for Hajj attendees. However, the vast number of participants makes safety a challenge. Climate change could further increase risks. A 2019 MIT study predicted that, even with climate mitigation efforts, the Hajj will face extreme temperatures.

It’ll reportedly exceed danger thresholds between 2047 and 2086. As Islam follows a lunar calendar, the Hajj occurs 11 days earlier each year. By 2029, the pilgrimage will fall in April and subsequently in winter. However, for now, pilgrims have been suffering due to extreme heat on the Hajj pilgrimage.

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Author

  • Sarah Tancredi

    Sarah Tancredi is an experienced journalist and news reporter specializing in environmental and climate crisis issues. With a deep passion for the planet and a commitment to raising awareness about pressing environmental challenges, Sarah has dedicated her career to informing the public and promoting sustainable solutions. She strives to inspire individuals, communities, and policymakers to take action to safeguard our planet for future generations.

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