Wednesday, July 10, 2024
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HomeWorld900+ Pilgrims Dead in Heatwave During Hajj, Families Search for Missing Relatives

900+ Pilgrims Dead in Heatwave During Hajj, Families Search for Missing Relatives

On Wednesday, June 19, friends and family were desperately searching for missing Haj pilgrims as the death toll from the annual pilgrimage, held in extreme heat, surpassed 900.

Relatives were visiting hospitals and asking for information online, fearing the worst after temperatures in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius on Monday.

Around 1.8 million people from around the world, many of them elderly and frail, participated in the pilgrimage, which this year took place during Saudi Arabia’s scorching summer.

An Arab diplomat told that the number of Egyptian deaths had risen to “at least 600,” up from more than 300 the previous day, primarily due to the intense heat. This brought the total reported deaths to 922, according to an AFP count of figures from various countries. Mabrouka bint Salem Shushana, a woman in her early 70s from Tunisia, has been missing since the peak of the pilgrimage on Saturday at Mount Arafat.

Because she was unregistered and didn’t have an official Haj permit, she couldn’t access air-conditioned facilities to cool down. “She’s an old lady. She was tired and feeling very hot, and she had no place to sleep,” he said. “I looked for her in all the hospitals. Until now, I don’t have a clue.” Facebook and other social media networks have been flooded with photos of the missing and pleas for information.

Hajj’s timing is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, so it shifts each year in the Gregorian calendar. For several years, the mostly outdoor rituals have fallen during the hot Saudi summer. A recent Saudi study found that temperatures in the area are rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius every decade.

Read More: High Temperatures Expected During Next Month’s Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

In addition to Egypt, deaths have been confirmed by Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, and Iraq’s Kurdistan region, although many authorities have not specified the cause of death.

Saudi Arabia has not released official information on fatalities but reported over 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone. Last year, more than 200 pilgrims, most of them from Indonesia, were reported dead.


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