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Hajj: Saudi Arabia warns of heat peak, several deaths

Saudi Arabia warned on Monday of extreme temperatures throughout the world. Mecca, where more than a dozen deaths linked to the heat have been é confirmed for the great Muslim pilgrimage.

This annual rite, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, took place again this year in summer, a particularly hot season in Saudi Arabia.

More than 2,700 Cases of “heat exhaustion” were recorded on Sunday alone, the Ministry of Health said at the end of the great pilgrimage.

Monday, temperatures were expected to reach up to 49 degrees Celsius in Mecca, Islam's first holiest city in the west of the country, where pilgrims were completing the hajj.

Some went around the Kabaa, a cubic construction in the center of the Great Mosque, while others completed the ritual of stoning Satan in the valley near Mina, in front of steles symbolizing the devil on which they threw stones.

“The holy sites are recording today the highest temperatures since the beginning of the hajj which can reach 49 degrees, and we advise the guests of God not to expose themselves to the sun,” the Health Ministry said, according to state television channel El-Ekhbariya.

Saudi weather reported on X that the temperature reached 51.8 degrees in Mecca.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that 14 Jordanian pilgrims had died “after suffering from sunstroke due to the extreme heat wave”, and that 17 others were “missing”.

Hajj: Saudi Arabia warns of heat peak, several deaths

Aerial view of the hajj pilgrims' camp in Mina, near Mecca, on June 17, 2024 in Saudi Arabia © AFP – FADEL SENNA

Tehran reported the deaths of five Iranian pilgrims, without specifying the cause of their deaths, while Dakar said three Senegalese pilgrims had also died.

“Prevention is important, and pilgrims should not go out during the hottest hours, unless necessary, or use an umbrella,” stressed the Saudi Ministry of Health in a statement cited by El -Ekhbariya.

“Our health instructions for the coming days are clear and simple: carry an umbrella, drink water regularly and avoid sun exposure,” he added.

This year, the hajj attracted around 1.8 million pilgrims, including 1.6 million from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.

– “Very difficult day” –

On Monday, in Mina, pilgrims splashed water on their heads while authorities distributed cold drinks and chocolate ice creams that melted quickly.

Hajj: Saudi Arabia warns of heat peak, several deaths

A man suffering from the scorching heat is helped by a pilgrim during the hajj in Mina, near Mecca, on June 16, 2024 in Saudi Arabia © AFP – Fadel Senna

Azza Hamid Brahim, a 61-year-old Egyptian woman, described seeing motionless bodies on the side of the road as she walked to and from the steles depicting Satan.

“It looked like the Last Judgment, the end of the world”. “It was a very difficult day. We said to ourselves: 'It's over, we're going to die' because of the heatwave,” she told AFP.

Arzu Farhaj, from Pakistan, said she tried to find help for a woman who was lying on the side of the road.

“She had no one. And people passed by indifferently, she explained. “We asked security to call an ambulance or something, but there was no such thing.”

Hajj: Saudi Arabia warns of heat peak, several deaths

Muslim pilgrims pray around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of Mecca on June 16, 2024 in Saudi Arabia. © AFP – FADEL SENNA

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and Muslims who can afford it must perform it at least once in their life.

It is a source of prestige and legitimacy for Saudi Arabia, whose king bears the title of “Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina.

In a message, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, said on Sunday that his country had a duty to “do everything to help the faithful worship safely and securely.” insurance”.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116