Spread the love

More than 900 dead during hajj in Saudi Arabia, many due to heatwave

Photo: Fadel Senna Agence France-Presse Mist dispensers cool Muslim pilgrims at the foot of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia, June 15, 2024.

France Media Agency to Riyadh

Published yesterday at 11:40 a.m.

  • Middle East

Relatives of pilgrims who went missing during the hajj in Saudi Arabia searched hospitals on Wednesday, fearing the worst after the deaths of more than 900 worshipers during this major annual Muslim pilgrimage, most due to the heatwave.

Majority of pilgrims killed during last week's hajj in Mecca, Islam's holiest city in the west of Saudi Arabia, are of Egyptian nationality.

An Arab diplomat said the Egyptian death toll from the hajj had risen to at least 600. “All the [newly announced] deaths were due to the heat,” he told AFP, as temperatures hit 51.8 degrees Celsius.

Other diplomats had previously reported that at least 323 Egyptians had died during the hajj, which was attended by about 1.8 million people this year, most of them from abroad.

The new Egyptian death toll brings the total number of deaths recorded so far in the hajj to 922, according to an AFP tally based on data provided by various countries.

Mabrouka bint Salem Shoushana, from Tunisia, in her 70s, is missing since the high point of the pilgrimage on Saturday to Mount Arafat, her husband, Mohammed, told AFP.

Because she was not registered and did not have an official permit for the hajj, she was unable to access the air-conditioned facilities that allow pilgrims to cool off after hours of outdoor prayers, he said. -he explained.

“She was so hot and she had no place to sleep. I looked for him in all the hospitals. And so far I don't know anything about her.”

Social networks flooded

He is far from the only one in desperate need of information.

Facebook and other social media sites have been flooded with photos of missing people and requests for information.

Ghada Mahmoud Dawoud, an Egyptian woman has been missing since Saturday.

“I received a call from her daughter in Egypt asking me to post a message on Facebook that might help find her,” said a family friend based in Saudi Arabia, who requested anonymity.< /p>

“We didn't find her on the dead list, which gives us hope that she's still alive. »

Scorching heat

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and every Muslim who has the means must do it at least once in his life.

The dates of the hajj are determined according to the Muslim calendar, based on lunar cycles, and rituals have taken place in recent years under scorching temperatures.

The pilgrimage is increasingly being affected by climate change, a Saudi study published in May warned, saying temperatures at sites where the rituals take place are rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius every decade.

Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt to perform the hajj through irregular routes because they cannot afford the often expensive official permits.

In addition to the Egyptian deaths, 60 Jordanian deaths have been reported by Arab diplomats.

Deaths have also been confirmed in Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia and Iraqi Kurdistan. An Asian diplomat reported “68 deaths” among the Indian pilgrims.

Diplomats said the day before that 550 bodies had been taken to the Al-Muaisem morgue, one of the largest in Mecca.

Saudi authorities said on Sunday they had treated more than 2,000 pilgrims suffering from heat stress, without providing information on deaths.

Houria Sharif, a 70-year-old Egyptian woman, has been missing since she prayed on Mount Arafat on Saturday.

“We knocked on lots of doors, but we didn't find her until present,” said a friend.

Also read

  • The hope of a greener pilgrimage to Mecca
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