Home Opinion Religion 2024 Hajj: Heat wave kills 19 pilgrims in S/Arabia, 17 goes missing

2024 Hajj: Heat wave kills 19 pilgrims in S/Arabia, 17 goes missing

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At least 19 Jordanian and Iranian pilgrims have died while on the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, authorities from their countries said on Sunday, as temperatures soar in the kingdom.

“Fourteen Jordanian pilgrims died and 17 others were missing” during the performance of hajj rituals, Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

AFP reports that the ministry later confirmed that the 14 died “after suffering sunstroke due to the extreme heat wave”.

Iranian Red Crescent Chief, Pirhossein Koolivand, separately said “Five Iranian pilgrims have lost their lives so far in Mecca and Medina during the hajj this year”, without saying how they died.

The Hajj, one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings, is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must perform it at least once.

Temperatures have pushed well past 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during the annual pilgrimage that around 1.8 million Muslims are taking part in this year.

Many of the rituals are performed outdoors and on foot, creating challenges, especially among the elderly.

Saudi Arabia has not provided any information on fatalities.

The kingdom has implemented heat mitigation measures, including climate-controlled areas. It distributes water and offers advice to pilgrims on protecting themselves from the sun.

Two pilgrims from Kwara State, Salman Alade and Ayishat Ologele, reportedly died while on pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrims were among the thousands of Nigerians who travelled to the holy land to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.

Their deaths followed that of two other pilgrims – Saliu Mohammed and Hawawu Mohammed – whose cases were reported in Madinah.

The report took the death toll among the Kwara pilgrims to four.

During last year’s hajj, at least 240 people – many from Indonesia – died, according to figures announced by various countries which also did not specify causes of death.

According to AFP, more than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, 10 per cent of them heat stroke.

A Saudi study said regional temperatures were rising 0.4 C each decade, and worsening heat may be outpacing mitigation measures.

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