Extreme Heat Causes Over 1,000 Deaths During Hajj Pilgrimage In Saudi Arabia

This year’s Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has turned tragic as unprecedented heat waves have led to over 1,000 deaths. The pilgrimage, a vital aspect of the Islamic faith requiring every Muslim to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime if able, has seen participants facing dangerously high temperatures.

Over 2 million pilgrims have gathered in Mecca for this year’s Hajj, a number exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Saudi authorities expected such numbers but were unprepared for the extreme weather conditions. The city has been experiencing temperatures soaring between 110°F and 115°F during the day and remaining around 100°F at night. On Monday, temperatures reached a staggering 125°F at the Grand Mosque.

The extreme heat has resulted in a significant number of heat-related injuries and fatalities. As reported by AFP, deaths have surpassed 1,000, with 658 of these being Egyptians, 630 of whom were unregistered pilgrims. The Saudi authorities have recorded a total of 1,081 deaths from ten different countries, highlighting the global impact of this disaster.

Unauthorized pilgrims, who lack official permits, are particularly vulnerable as they do not have access to air-conditioned facilities provided for registered pilgrims. These unauthorized participants must endure the heat without the relief stations available to others, making them more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Last Sunday alone saw over 2,700 cases of heat exhaustion, according to the Saudi foreign ministry. Heat stroke, the more severe condition, occurs when the body can no longer regulate its temperature, failing to cool down through sweating. Symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, fainting, and mental confusion.