550 pilgrims had died during the Hajj

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Sunday: 19 June 2024: Diplomats reported that at least 550 pilgrims had died during the Haj pilgrimage, highlighting the challenging conditions exacerbated by scorching temperatures this year. Most notably, Egyptians accounted for 323 of the fatalities, predominantly due to heat-related ailments, according to two Arab diplomats coordinating their nations' responses. One diplomat clarified that the total figure was based on records from the hospital morgue in Makkah's Al-Muaisem neighborhood, where all but one of the Egyptian deaths were attributed to heat, with one casualty from a minor crowd incident.

Additionally, the diplomats disclosed that 60 Jordanians had also perished, an increase from an earlier official count of 41 reported by Amman earlier in the day. These newly reported deaths bring the combined toll from multiple countries to 577, according to journalists tally.

The diplomats cited a total of 550 deaths recorded at the Al-Muaisem morgue, one of the largest in Makkah, underscoring the ongoing impact of climate change on the Haj pilgrimage. A recent Saudi study indicated a steady temperature rise in areas where rituals are conducted, increasing 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade. On Monday, temperatures peaked at 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, as reported by Saudi Arabia's national meteorology center.

Earlier in the day, Egypt's foreign ministry announced cooperation with Saudi authorities in search efforts for missing Egyptian pilgrims. While confirming "a certain number of deaths," the ministry did not specify whether Egyptians were among the casualties. Saudi authorities reported treating over 2,000 pilgrims for heat-related stress, with no updates since Sunday on fatalities or medical cases.

Last year, various countries reported a total of 240 pilgrim deaths, predominantly Indonesians.  journalists observed pilgrims in Mina, outside Makkah, taking measures to cool down amid extreme conditions, including pouring water over themselves and receiving assistance from volunteers distributing cold drinks and ice cream.

Saudi officials had advised pilgrims to use umbrellas, stay hydrated, and avoid sun exposure during peak heat hours. However, some pilgrims encountered challenges, with reports of motionless bodies and overwhelmed ambulance services along the route.

This year, approximately 1.8 million pilgrims participated in the Haj, with 1.6 million coming from abroad, according to Saudi authorities. Despite efforts to control irregular pilgrimages, tens of thousands attempted the Haj through unofficial channels, lacking access to the air-conditioned facilities provided for registered pilgrims.

Reflecting on this year's operations, Saudi Health Minister Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Al-Jalajel reported successful health initiatives aimed at preventing major outbreaks during the Haj. Virtual consultations were provided to over 5,800 pilgrims, primarily addressing heat-related illnesses, ensuring prompt medical interventions and mitigating potential health crises.

 

 

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