In Saudi Arabia, several heat-related deaths during the hajj

Muslim pilgrims near the Kaaba, the cubic building of the Grand Mosque, during the hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, June 17, 2024. RAFIQ MAQBOOL / AP

Saudi Arabia warned on Monday June 17 of extreme temperatures in Mecca where more than a dozen heat-related deaths were confirmed during the great Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj. This annual rite, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, took place again this year in summer, a particularly hot season in Saudi Arabia.

More than 2,700 cases of“heat exhaustion” were recorded for Sunday alone, announced the Ministry of Health at the end of the great pilgrimage. On Monday, temperatures were expected to reach up to 49 degrees Celsius in Mecca, Islam’s first holiest city, where pilgrims were completing the hajj.

A Muslim pilgrim at the foot of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia, during the hajj, June 15, 2024.

A Muslim pilgrim at the foot of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia, during the hajj, June 15, 2024.

A Muslim pilgrim at the foot of Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia, during the hajj, June 15, 2024. FADEL SENNA / AFP

Some went around the Kaaba, a cubic construction in the center of the Great Mosque, while others completed the ritual of stoning Satan in the valley near Mina, in front of steles symbolizing the devil on which they threw stones.

“The holy places today record the highest temperatures since the start of the hajj which can reach 49 ° C, and we advise God’s guests not to expose themselves to the sun”, the health ministry said, according to state television channel Al-Ekhbariya. Saudi weather reported on X that the temperature reached 51.8°C in Mecca.

Fourteen Jordanian pilgrims dead

Jordan’s foreign ministry said Sunday that fourteen Jordanian pilgrims had died “after suffering sunstroke due to the extreme heat wave”and that seventeen others were ” missing “. Tehran reported the death of five Iranian pilgrims, without specifying the cause of their deaths, while Dakar said three Senegalese pilgrims had died.

“Prevention is important, and pilgrims should not go out during the hottest hours, unless necessary, or use an umbrella”underlined the Saudi Ministry of Health in a statement cited by Al-Ekhbariya. “Our health instructions for the days to come are clear and simple: carry an umbrella, drink water regularly and avoid exposure to the sun”he added.

This year, the hajj attracted around 1.8 million pilgrims, including 1.6 million from abroad, according to Saudi authorities. In a message, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, said Sunday his country had a duty to “do everything to help the faithful carry out their worship in complete safety and assurance”.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Pilgrimage to Mecca: ten things to know about the Kaaba

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