Heatwave Claims Over 550 Lives During Hajj Pilgrimage

According to reports from Arab diplomats, a severe heatwave has killed at least 550 pilgrims during this year’s Hajj. The temperature soared to a scorching 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Monday, as recorded by the Saudi National Meteorology Center.

The majority of the deceased were Egyptians, with 323 losing their lives primarily due to heat-related conditions. “All of them (the Egyptians) died because of the heatwave,” stated a diplomat, except for one individual who succumbed to injuries sustained during a minor crowd crush. The total death toll was confirmed from records at the hospital morgue in Mecca’s Al-Muaisem neighborhood.

In addition to the Egyptian casualties, at least 60 Jordanians also died during the pilgrimage. According to an AFP tally, the total reported deaths from various countries stand at 577—the Al-Muaisem morgue, one of Mecca’s giants, documented 550 deaths. Although Saudi authorities have treated over 2,000 pilgrims for heat stress, they have not released updated figures or additional details on fatalities since Sunday.

Despite advice from Saudi officials for pilgrims to use umbrellas, stay hydrated, and avoid sun exposure during peak heat hours, many Hajj rituals necessitate extended outdoor activities during the day. Some pilgrims reported witnessing motionless bodies along the roadside and overwhelmed ambulance services struggling to cope with the emergency.

Approximately 1.8 million pilgrims participated in the Hajj this year, with 1.6 million arriving from abroad. Additionally, tens of thousands of pilgrims attempted the Hajj without securing official visas to save money, thereby forfeiting access to air-conditioned facilities provided by Saudi authorities along the route, increasing their vulnerability to extreme conditions.

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