Hundreds of Hajj Pilgrims Reported Dead Amid Extreme Heat

Searing heat in Saudi Arabia appeared to at least contribute to many of the deaths.

During the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, one of the most important events on the Muslim calendar, at least 450 people died under a scorching sun as they prayed at sacred sites around the holy city of Mecca.

Amid maximum temperaturesthat ranged from 108 Fahrenheit and 120, according to preliminary data, and throngs of people, many passed out and needed medical care. The pilgrims, some who have saved their whole lives for the hajj, spend days walking and sleeping in tents during their journey to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims. The hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars, and all Muslims who are physically and financially able are obliged to embark on the pilgrimage.

Indonesia has so far reported the most deaths, 199, and India reported 98. The countries said at this point that they could not be sure that heat was the cause of all the deaths, though, relatives of the missing and dead and tour operators have said the heat was at least a contributing factor.

The number of dead is expected to rise as neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt, where many pilgrims come from, have released death tolls for their citizens.

Egypt is alarmed enough that it has set up crisis centers to receive distress calls and coordinate the government’s response as families brace for a high death toll as many people have been reported missing.

A map of Saudi Arabia highlighting Mecca, also showing Riyadh.

Iraq

Iran

Saudi Arabia

Persian

Gulf

Egypt

Riyadh

Mecca

Sudan

Oman

Red

Sea

Yemen

250 miles

By The New York Times

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Updated: Juni 22, 2024 — 5:20 am

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