Over 1000 Hajj pilgrims dead in extreme heat in Mecca

Pilgrims performing Tawaaf of the Kaaba in Mecca. [File Photo]

The official death toll from this year’s Hajj pilgrimage has crossed 1000, with estimates suggesting the true number could be more than what is reported, CNN international reported.

Reports indicate that up to 600 Egyptian worshippers may have died on their way to Mecca due to extreme heat.

Authorities have confirmed the deaths of at least 14 Malaysians, 165 Indonesians, 75 Jordanians, 35 Pakistanis, 49 Tunisians, 11 Iranians, and 98 Indians. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry added that 27 Jordanians are hospitalized and about 14 are missing.

The US State Department confirmed multiple American deaths but did not specify a number, expressing condolences and offering consular assistance.

The Iranian Red Crescent reported that many Iranians have been hospitalised for heatstroke and other conditions. CNN’s tally places the official death toll for this year’s pilgrimage at a minimum of 480, with expectations of further increases as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have yet to release complete figures. Concerns grow that more deaths may have occurred among unregistered pilgrims.

This year’s Hajj saw pilgrims endure dangerously high temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). In response, the Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly heads a crisis unit to support the families of the deceased, while President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi instructed swift coordination with Saudi authorities to facilitate the return of bodies.

Official Egyptian statements report 28 deaths, but other sources, including Reuters, suggest as many as 500 to 600 Egyptians may have died. Egyptian officials are working to confirm the exact number of victims and missing persons, hindered by the significant number of unregistered pilgrims.

Thousands more pilgrims were treated for heatstroke as 1.8 million Muslims faced high temperatures. Despite the Saudi Ministry of Health’s safety measures, including cooling stations and advisories to stay hydrated, this year’s pilgrimage was marred by tragedy, raising concerns about the safety of unregistered pilgrims who lack access to official facilities.

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