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Heatwave Causes Over 550 Deaths During Hajj 2024

Heatwave Causes Over 550 Deaths During Hajj 2024

Heatwave Causes Over 550 Deaths During 2024 Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

The extreme heatwave during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has resulted in over 550 deaths, with temperatures soaring to a scorching 51.8 degrees Celsius at Mecca’s Grand Mosque on June 17. The majority of the victims were Egyptian pilgrims, accompanied by at least 60 Jordanians and 5 Iranians.

Unprecedented Heat Claims Lives During Hajj 2024

According to diplomatic sources from Saudi Arabia, at least 550 pilgrims succumbed to heat-related issues during the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage. These sources, reported by multiple media outlets, confirmed the staggering death toll.

Record-Breaking Temperatures in Mecca

On June 17, temperatures at Mecca’s Grand Mosque reached an unprecedented 51.8 degrees Celsius. This extreme heatwave primarily affected Egyptian pilgrims, resulting in the death of 323 Egyptians due to heat-related illnesses. Additionally, the toll included at least 60 Jordanians and 5 Iranians, as reported by diplomatic sources coordinating the response from their respective countries.

Egypt’s Heavy Losses

Egyptian pilgrims faced the most significant impact, with 323 confirmed deaths due to the sweltering heat. According to Arab diplomats, these fatalities were primarily caused by heat-related illnesses, as reported by the hospital morgue in Mecca’s Al-Muaisem neighborhood.

Jordanian and Iranian Casualties

The death toll among Jordanian pilgrims rose to 60, an increase from the earlier count of 41. This brings the total number of fatalities across multiple nationalities to 577, based on media estimates.

Saudi Arabia’s Response to Heat-Related Deaths

Despite these reports, Saudi Arabia’s health ministry stated on June 17 that there were no significant heat-related deaths among this year’s pilgrims. Jameel Abualenain, a health ministry official, attributed the fatalities to varied health conditions and pre-existing illnesses among the pilgrims.

Addressing Comorbidities and Vulnerable Populations

Abualenain emphasized the diversity of the pilgrim population, noting the presence of elderly individuals and those with different comorbidities and medication compliance issues. This varied health landscape contributed to the challenges in managing the health crisis during the Hajj.

Impact of Climate Change on Hajj Temperatures

A recent study published in the Journal of Travel and Medicine by Saudi researchers highlighted a gradual increase in temperatures in Hajj ritual areas by 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade, reflecting the impact of climate change. This year’s extreme heat, with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, underscored the urgent need to address climate-related challenges.

Collaborative Efforts to Manage Heat Stress

Egypt’s foreign ministry confirmed ongoing collaboration with Saudi authorities to search for missing Egyptians, though the exact number of casualties remained unspecified. Saudi authorities reported treating over 2,000 pilgrims for heat stress, but there have been no updates on the death toll since Sunday.

Historical Context of Pilgrim Deaths

Last year, various nations reported at least 240 deaths among pilgrims, predominantly Indonesians. The 2024 Hajj pilgrimage’s significantly higher death toll highlights the severe impact of this year’s heatwave and the pressing need for improved measures to protect vulnerable pilgrims.

Conclusion

The tragic loss of over 550 lives during the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia due to an unprecedented heatwave serves as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by extreme weather conditions. As temperatures continue to rise, addressing climate change and ensuring the safety of pilgrims during Hajj becomes increasingly critical. The collaborative efforts between countries and Saudi authorities aim to mitigate such risks and prevent future tragedies.

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