Hajj Heatwave Claims Nearly 500 Lives, Hundreds More Feared Dead

Hajj Heatwave Claims Nearly 500 Lives, Hundreds More Feared Dead

4 weeks ago
2 mins read

Rising Death Toll Amid Extreme Heat

This year’s Hajj pilgrimage has been marred by a tragic loss of life, due to the heatwave, with the official death toll soaring to almost 500.

Reports suggest that the true toll could be even higher, with as many as 600 Egyptian worshipers potentially perishing on the route to Mecca amid extreme heat.

International Losses

Authorities in various countries have reported the following casualties due to the heatwave:

  • 14 Malaysians
  • 165 Indonesians
  • 75 Jordanians
  • 35 Pakistanis
  • 49 Tunisians
  • 11 Iranians
  • 98 Indians

The US State Department has also confirmed the deaths of multiple US citizens, though specific numbers were not provided. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the families on their loss,” said a State Department spokesperson, adding that the agency is ready to provide consular assistance.

Efforts to Support Families

Egyptian officials are working to provide support and coordinate with Saudi Arabian authorities to return the bodies of the deceased.

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Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly heads the crisis unit, which aims to offer support for the families affected. “We are doing everything we can to ensure the safe return of our deceased pilgrims,” an Egyptian official stated.

Health Measures and Ongoing Challenges

The Saudi Ministry of Health implemented safety measures, including cooling stations and urging pilgrims to stay hydrated.

However, these efforts were insufficient to prevent heatstroke and other heat-related conditions from the heatwave. Thousands of pilgrims were treated for heatstroke as temperatures soared to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Unregistered Pilgrims at Risk

Many pilgrims who did not have official permits faced increased risks. These unregistered worshipers often lack access to the facilities and safety measures provided to those with permits. “The conditions were unbearable, and we saw many struggling to cope with the heat,” said one witness.

Responses from Affected Countries

Jordanian officials have issued burial permits for at least 68 pilgrims to be laid to rest in Mecca, according to their families’ wishes.

Malaysia’s Minister for Religious Affairs, Dr. Mohd Na’im Mokhtar, reported that most Malaysian deaths were due to “heart disease, pneumonia, and blood infection.” The Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the deaths of 98 nationals, citing natural causes and chronic illnesses as the primary reasons.

Rising Temperatures and Hajj Rituals

The extreme heat has raised concerns over the safety of performing traditional Hajj rituals. Saudi Arabia advised pilgrims against performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual during peak temperatures. The Saudi army deployed medical units and rapid response teams to assist those affected by heatstroke.

Future Implications and Safety Measures

The tragic events have prompted calls for improved safety measures and better preparation for future pilgrimages. With over 1.8 million people participating in this year’s Hajj, ensuring the safety and well-being of all pilgrims remains a significant challenge.

Economic Impact

The Hajj pilgrimage is a major source of revenue for Saudi Arabia, contributing significantly to the economy. Efforts to expand facilities and accommodate more worshippers are ongoing, with the government aiming to attract 30 million pilgrims annually by 2030.

Despite the economic benefits, the focus remains on ensuring a safe and successful pilgrimage for all participants.

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Emmanuel Ochayi is a journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, School of first choice and the nations pride. Emmanuel is keen on exploring writing angles in different areas, including Business, climate change, politics, Education, and others.

Emmanuel Ochayi is a journalist. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, School of first choice and the nations pride. Emmanuel is keen on exploring writing angles in different areas, including Business, climate change, politics, Education, and others.

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