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Hajj death toll rises as details emerge more clearly

June 20, 2024 at 9:14 am

Rescuers carry away a man, affected by the scorching heat, on a stretcher as Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual as part of the hajj pilgrimage in Mina on June 16, 2024 [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

The number of pilgrims who died during this year’s Hajj in Saudi Arabia has now reached 577, AFP has reported. Almost all are believed to have died as a result of the “excessive” temperatures in the Kingdom.

According to two unnamed Arab diplomats cited by the agency, 323 Egyptian pilgrims died during the pilgrimage, as well as 60 Jordanians. The numbers were sourced from Al-Muaisem Hospital mortuary in Makkah. The government in Amman announced on Tuesday that 41 of its citizens had died. However, it has been confirmed that not all of the Egyptians and Jordanians who died were registered with the official Hajj missions from their countries.

Egypt and Jordan announced through their respective foreign ministries that they have established emergency operations rooms to follow up on reports of missing pilgrims.

On Tuesday, the Tunisian authorities reported the deaths of 35 pilgrims from their country during this year’s Hajj. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Facebook that the deceased included “five pilgrims from the official Hajj list and 30 who arrived on tourist, visit or Umrah visas.” Countries such as Indonesia, Iran and Senegal have also reported deaths during this Hajj season.

Climate change increasingly affects the pilgrimage, with a Saudi study published last month indicating that temperatures in the Hajj region rise by 0.4 degrees Celsius each decade. This year, around 1.8 million pilgrims participated, including 1.6 million from abroad, according to the Saudi authorities, which declared the success of the 2024 Hajj season (1445 AH) without addressing the number of unregistered pilgrims or the causes of death of some of them.

READ: Iran official criticises Saudi Arabia over arrests, deportations of Iranian pilgrims