NewsHeatwave tragedy claims 1,301 lives during Mecca pilgrimage

Heatwave tragedy claims 1,301 lives during Mecca pilgrimage

Tragic toll of the pilgrimage to Mecca. More than 1300 people are dead.
Tragic toll of the pilgrimage to Mecca. More than 1300 people are dead.
Images source: © Getty Images

6:39 AM EDT, June 24, 2024

Tragic tally in the pilgrimage to the Al-Kaba shrine in Mecca. The Saudi Arabian authorities have reported that over 1,300 people died during this year's Hajj. Most of the victims succumbed to heat stroke. During the pilgrimage, temperatures soared as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

1,301 people died during this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, according to information provided by the Saudi Arabian authorities. The pilgrims were killed by the extreme heat.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health, Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel, emphasized that 83% of the 1,301 fatalities were individuals making the pilgrimage without government permission, traveling long distances on foot. According to the minister, 95 pilgrims are still in hospitals, with some being airlifted for treatment in the country’s capital, Riyadh.

The deceased pilgrims were laid to rest in Mecca, but many lacked identification documents, delaying the process of identifying bodies. According to Reuters, the highest number of this year's pilgrimage fatalities (672 people) were Egyptian citizens. Associated Press reported that the victims hailed from Indonesia, India, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Malaysia.

Pilgrimage to Mecca: Killed by heat

Devastating scenes took place during the pilgrimage to the Al-Kaba shrine. According to the Saudi National Center for Meteorology, temperatures in the city ranged from 115 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (some sources report thermometers indicating up to 126 degrees). Pilgrims fainted from the heat in front of journalists, and some vomited and collapsed.

Pilgrims' bodies were lying in the streets among passing cars and scattered trash. This is visible in the footage, but it is pretty graphic.

The pilgrimage to Mecca is an obligation for every devout Muslim. Each should perform it at least once in their lifetime (if their health and financial situation allow).

Some believers are determined to spend their life savings, incur debt, or sell property to fund a family member's pilgrimage. Depending on the country of origin, one must allocate several thousand to tens of thousands of US dollars for this purpose.

According to the Saudi statistics office, over 1.83 million pilgrims from 23 countries participated in this year’s Hajj.

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