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Pilgrim deaths: Hundreds of pilgrims die as temperatures rise in Mecca, Saudi Arabia


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Rafiq Maqbool/AFP

Muslim pilgrims use umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun as they arrive to throw stones at pillars for the symbolic stoning of the devil in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, on June 18, 2024.

Dubai United Arab Emirates

Hundreds of people died and thousands were treated for heatstroke while performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca amid extreme temperatures of 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

About 165 Indonesians are among the dead, CNN Indonesia reported, citing the Hajj Management Office of the Consulate General of Indonesians in Saudi Arabia. In addition, at least 41 Jordanians, 35 Tunisians and 11 Iranians have died, according to authorities in each country.

The Iranian Red Crescent said on Wednesday that 22 other Jordanians were missing, and 26 Iranians had been taken to hospital, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The Iranian Red Crescent said some Iranians died of heatstroke while others were suffering from chronic conditions.

The death toll is likely to rise, as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have not yet published official figures. In addition, governments are only aware of pilgrims who have registered and traveled to Mecca as part of their country’s quota – and more deaths are feared among unregistered pilgrims.

The Saudi government said on Monday that more than 2,700 people had received treatment for heatstroke. Meanwhile, hundreds of people took to social media to post about the loss of their loved ones.

more than 1.8 million people They are participating in this year’s Hajj season, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, according to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics.

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While deaths among pilgrims are not uncommon (there were more than 200 cases last year), this year’s gathering is being held amid particularly high temperatures.

The Hajj season changes every year according to the Islamic calendar, and this year it fell in June, one of the hottest months in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia advised pilgrims on Monday not to perform the “stoning of the devil” ritual between certain hours after temperatures reach 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Hajj officials asked pilgrims to carry umbrellas and stay hydrated amid the harsh conditions while the Saudi army deployed more than 1,600 personnel with dedicated sunstroke medical units and 30 rapid response teams. Another 5,000 volunteers in the field of health and first aid are participating in this project.

Performing the Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, which requires every physically and financially able Muslim to make the journey to the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

The Hajj includes many detailed rituals, including wearing a special garment symbolizing human equality and unity before God, a circular procession counterclockwise around The Kaaba is in the shape of a cube Building, symbolically stoning evil.

This story has been updated with additional information. Edward Sikiris and Handy Al Khashali contributed to the report.

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