Hajj 2024: Tragedy as Over 900 Deaths Recorded, Families Search for Loved Ones

Hajj 2024: Tragedy as Over 900 Deaths Recorded, Families Search for Loved Ones

  • Temperatures in Mecca reached 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit), contributing to a rising death toll during the hajj pilgrimage
  • Approximately 1.8 million pilgrims, many elderly and frail, participated in the mostly outdoor Hajj rituals, coinciding with the intense Saudi summer
  • An Arab diplomat reported that Egyptian deaths alone had surged to at least 600, with the overall death toll reaching 922

Makkah, Saudi Arabia-Relatives combed through hospitals and sought updates online, fearing the worst after temperatures in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, soared to 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) on Monday, June 17.

Approximately 1.8 million people from around the globe, many elderly and frail, participated in the predominantly outdoor pilgrimage, which this year coincided with the sweltering Saudi summer.

Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia Photo credit: Sony Herdiana
Source: Getty Images

As reported by The Guardian, an Arab diplomat informed AFP that the number of Egyptian deaths alone had risen to “at least 600,” up from more than 300 the previous day, primarily due to the relentless heat.

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Hajj 2024: 600 Egyptian pilgrims confirmed dead in Saudi Arabia, cause of death surfaces

This figure brought the total death count to 922, based on an AFP tally of reports from various countries. Mabrouka bint Salem Shushana of Tunisia, in her early 70s, has been missing since the climax of the pilgrimage on Saturday at Mount Arafat, her husband Mohammed told AFP on Wednesday, June 19.

Due to her lack of registration and an official Hajj permit, she was unable to access air-conditioned facilities meant to help pilgrims cope with the heat, he explained.

His words:

"She’s an elderly woman, exhausted, extremely hot, and without a place to rest," he said. "I have searched all the hospitals for her. Until now, I have no clue about her whereabouts."

Facebook and other social media platforms have been flooded with photos of missing individuals and pleas for information, Vanguard reported.

Among those searching are the family and friends of Ghada Mahmoud Ahmed Dawood, an Egyptian pilgrim unaccounted for since Saturday.

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Hajj 2024: Over 500 pilgrims die over extreme heat in Mecca, Report Says

A family friend in Saudi Arabia said:

"I received a call from her daughter in Egypt, pleading with me to post anything on Facebook that could help locate her or find her,"
"The silver lining is that we haven’t found her name on the list of deceased, which gives us hope she is still alive."

Extreme heat

The Hajj, one of Islam's five pillars, is mandatory for all Muslims who have the means to complete it at least once. Its timing is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, causing it to shift forward each year in the Gregorian calendar.

For the past few years, the predominantly outdoor rituals have taken place during Saudi Arabia’s scorching summer.

According to a Saudi study published last month, temperatures in the region are rising by 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.72 degrees Fahrenheit) each decade.

Besides Egypt, fatalities have also been confirmed by Jordan, Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, though specific causes have often not been disclosed.

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A second Arab diplomat told AFP on Wednesday that Jordanian officials were searching for 20 missing pilgrims, while 80 others initially reported missing were found in hospitals.

An Asian diplomat mentioned that:

"India had "around 68 dead," with some pilgrims still missing. "Some died due to natural causes, particularly the elderly, while others likely succumbed to the extreme weather conditions."

Saudi Arabia has not released information on fatalities but reported over 2,700 cases of "heat exhaustion" on Sunday alone.

Last year, more than 200 pilgrims, mostly from Indonesia, were reported dead.

‘No News’

Every year, tens of thousands of pilgrims attempt the Hajj through unofficial channels due to the high cost of official permits.

This has been facilitated by Saudi Arabia's introduction of a general tourism visa in 2019, explained Umer Karim, a Saudi politics expert at the University of Birmingham.

He said:

Read also

Hajj 2024: Tragedy as 19 pilgrims confirmed dead, 17 missing in Saudi Arabia

"Previously, only residents of the kingdom could attempt this, but now tourists, unaware of the challenges, are attempting it."

Hajj 2024: Over 500 pilgrims die

In another report, over 500 pilgrims have lost their lives during the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca amidst scorching temperatures, as reported by various press outlets and foreign ministries.

According to diplomats speaking to French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, at least 550 people have died during the hajj.

The majority of the fatalities, numbering 323, were Egyptians who succumbed to heat-related illnesses, as confirmed by two Arab diplomats.

Source: Legit.ng

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Ezra Ukanwa (Editor) Ezra Ukanwa is a first-class graduate of Anchor University, Lagos. He holds a master's degree in mass communication. Ezra currently serves as the Current Affairs and Politics Editor for Legit.ng, where he covers events and provides insightful analysis and reportage on national issues. He was named best Campus Journalist (Anchor University Communications Award, 2019). Kindly contact him at: ezra.ukanwa@corp.legit.ng or +2349036989944