At least 14 pilgrims die during hajj pilgrimage amid soaring temperatures

MONITORING (SW) – At least 14 Jordanian pilgrims have died while on the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as temperatures soar in the kingdom.

Jordan’s foreign ministry said “14 Jordanian pilgrims died and 17 others were missing” during the performance of hajj rituals. It said its nationals had died “after suffering sun stroke due to the extreme heatwave” and that it had coordinated with Saudi authorities to bury the dead in Saudi Arabia, or transfer them to Jordan.

The Iranian Red Crescent chief, Pir Hossein Kolivand, said “five Iranian pilgrims have lost their lives so far in Mecca and Medina during the hajj this year”, but did not say how they died.

Mohammed Al-Abdulaali, a spokesperson for the Saudi health ministry, told reporters that more than 2,760 pilgrims suffered from sunstroke and heat stress on Sunday alone. Saudi Arabia has not provided any information on fatalities.

The heat reached 47C (116.6F) in Mecca on Sunday, a temperature that was forecast to continue on Monday.

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

The hajj, which will end on Wednesday, is one of the largest mass gatherings in the world, with more than 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims expected to take part this year, according to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics.

Stampedes, tent fires, heat and other factors have caused hundreds of deaths at the event over the past 30 years.

Many of the rituals are performed outdoors and on foot, creating challenges especially among elderly people. Temperatures have pushed well past 40C during the pilgrimage.

The Saudi health ministry issued an advisory on Thursday warning of soaring temperatures and advising pilgrims to stay hydrated and avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours of the day between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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. More than 2,000 people suffered heat stress during the festival.

More than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, 10% of them heatstroke, a Saudi official told AFP this week.