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320+ Egyptians Die During Hajj: AFP

June 19, 2024
Aerial shot of the Grand Mosque and Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

At least 323 Egyptian pilgrims have died during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, primarily due to heat-related illnesses, reported the AFP.

While Egypt has not officially confirmed these figures, state media have reported several deaths among the 56,000 Egyptians who participated in the pilgrimage.

“All of them died because of heat” except for one who sustained fatal injuries during a minor crowd crush, one diplomat said to the AFP, adding that the total figure was obtained from the hospital morgue in the Al-Muaisem neighborhood of Mecca.

The rising death toll is not limited to Egyptians. At least 60 Jordanians also died, an increase from the official tally of 41 earlier reported by the Jordanian government. According to an AFP tally, the total number of deaths reported by various countries now stands at 577, with the morgue in Al-Muaisem accounting for 550 of these deaths.

This year, around 1.8 million pilgrims participated in the Hajj, with 1.6 million coming from abroad, as per Saudi authorities. The pilgrimage was marked by extreme heat, with temperatures reaching a scorching 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Mecca on Monday, according to the Saudi national meteorology center.

A recent Saudi study cited by AFP indicated that temperatures in the area where Hajj rituals are performed are rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) each decade, highlighting the growing influence of climate change on the pilgrimage.

Compounding the problem, many pilgrims attempt to perform the Hajj without securing official visas to save money. These unregistered pilgrims are unable to access air-conditioned facilities provided by Saudi authorities along the Hajj route, increasing their risk.

According to AFP, one diplomat indicated that the high number of unregistered Egyptian pilgrims likely contributed to the elevated death toll among Egyptian pilgrims.

The tragic deaths underscore the urgent need for measures to protect pilgrims from extreme heat, as the effects of climate change continue to exacerbate the challenges of performing Hajj.

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