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Hajj Pilgrimage: At least 19 Die In Saudi Arabia As Temperatures Rise

Saudi Arabia has set up climate-controlled areas, distributed water to pilgrims, and advised pilgrims to protect themselves from the sun.

AP
Nineteen Hajj pilgrims die as temperatures rise | Photo: AP
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At least 19 Hajj pilgrims have died in Saudi Arabia, with 14 Jordanian pilgrims succumbing to heatstroke amid a severe heatwave. 

Another "five Iranian pilgrims have lost their lives so far in Mecca and Medina during the Hajj this year," the Iranian Red Crescent said, but did not provide details on the causes.

Jordan's Foreign Ministry confirmed its 14 citizens had died "after suffering sunstroke due to the extreme heat wave."

News of the deaths comes as more than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated at a sacred hill, known as Mount Ararat, outside the holy city of Mecca, which Muslim pilgrims visit to perform the annual five-day rituals of Hajj.

Saudi Arabia has set up climate-controlled areas, distributed water to pilgrims, and advised pilgrims to protect themselves from the sun. Military medical units have been deployed to treat heatstroke, and rapid response teams established. Many pilgrims carried umbrellas to protect them against the blistering sun.

The Hajj takes place during the hot Saudi Arabian summer, and temperatures are expected to reach 47°C (116.6°F) on Monday. The Saudi health ministry issued an advisory warning pilgrims to stay hydrated and avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours of the day (11am-3pm).

More than 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, a Saudi official told the AFP news agency.

It also came against the backdrop of Israel's war on Gaza, which has pushed the Middle East to the brink of a regional conflict.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were not able to travel to Mecca this year because of the closure of the Rafah crossing in May when Israel extended its ground offensive to the city on the border with Egypt.

All Muslims are required to make the Hajj once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to do so. Many wealthy Muslims make the pilgrimage more than once. 

More than 1.83 million Muslims performed Hajj in 2024, Saudi Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah said in a briefing, slightly less than last year’s figures when 1.84 million made the rituals.

(With agency inputs)

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