Heatwave Claims Lives of Pilgrims During Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Heatwave Claims Lives of Pilgrims During Hajj in Saudi Arabia

 

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry confirmed the deaths of six Jordanian pilgrims from heatstroke during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, with the toll later revised to 14. It remains uncertain whether the additional fatalities were also due to the heat. This tragedy unfolded as temperatures soared to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) in Mecca, as reported by the National Center for Meteorology.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage, a core obligation for Muslims who are physically and financially able, began on Friday and is attended this year by 1.8 million devotees from across the globe. The pilgrimage involves several outdoor rituals in the extreme heat, including circling the Kaaba and retracing the steps of the Prophet Muhammad on the Mount of Mercy.

The Saudi Health Ministry, via spokesman Mohammed Al-Abdulaali, announced that over 2,700 cases of heat stress and sunstroke among pilgrims were recorded. These incidents highlight the growing challenges posed by climate change, with a 2019 study indicating that the increasing heat could make the pilgrimage perilous during the hottest months.

The study, conducted by researchers from MIT and Loyola Marymount University, suggests that the shifting dates of Hajj on the Gregorian calendar may temporarily avoid the most extreme conditions, but the long-term outlook remains concerning. Last year’s Hajj also saw thousands of heat-related illnesses, emphasizing the recurring nature of this risk.

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