Deadly Heat Wave Hits Hajj Pilgrimage, Causing Over 1,000 Fatalities

The annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has been struck by a devastating heat wave, resulting in over 1,000 deaths. This religious journey, which every Muslim is expected to make at least once if able, has turned deadly due to record-breaking temperatures.

More than 2 million people have converged in Mecca for this year’s Hajj, marking a return to pre-pandemic numbers. However, the extreme heat, with daytime temperatures between 110°F and 115°F and nighttime temperatures around 100°F, has created hazardous conditions. On Monday, temperatures at the Grand Mosque peaked at 125°F, one of the highest ever recorded there.

The heat has led to a severe health crisis among pilgrims. AFP reports that over 1,000 people have died from heat-related causes, with Egypt suffering 658 deaths, including 630 unregistered pilgrims. In total, 1,081 deaths have been recorded from ten countries participating in the pilgrimage.

Unauthorized pilgrims, who do not have permits, face greater risks as they lack access to cooling stations and other amenities provided for registered pilgrims. This group is more likely to suffer from heat-related illnesses, as they are forced to endure the harsh conditions without adequate relief.

The Saudi foreign ministry reported that last Sunday alone saw more than 2,700 cases of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke, which occurs when the body’s temperature regulation fails, poses the most significant threat, with symptoms such as dizziness, vomiting, fainting, and confusion.

These tragic events underscore the need for better preparation and support for all pilgrims, especially as climate change continues to increase the likelihood of extreme weather conditions during such significant gatherings.