Rising Death Toll in Saudi Arabia Hajj: Heatwave Claims Over 1,300 Lives

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Rising Death Toll in Saudi Arabia Hajj: Heatwave Claims Over 1,300 Lives

Over 1300 Pilgrims die during Hajj in Saudi Arabia

Amid rising temperatures and scorching sun, the death toll has increased in Saudi Arabia. Earlier, it was reported that 550+ pilgrims had been found dead due to the heatwave but the latest reports are showing a rise in the death toll of the deceased which has reached up to 1,300. According to Saudi Arabia, more than 1,300 devotees have perished during the Hajj pilgrimage which has happened during intense heat. In addition to this, most of the deceased did not have official permits and lost their lives in Saudi Arabia. 

An official Saudi Press Agency said, “Regrettably, the number of mortalities reached 1,301, with 83% being unauthorised to perform hajj and having walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort.” 

The death toll showcases the intense situation caused by the rising temperature which is now taking the lives of the people. These demises are alert from the side of nature, showing the serious consequences caused due to rising global warming. It is high time to take serious action against the ongoing situation. Speaking of the deaths in Hajj, the government of Saudi Arabia states, “The health system addressed numerous cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care.”

The Saudi government further said that the deceased people included “numerous elderly and chronically ill individuals,” adding that the families of all the dead had now been identified. During this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, hundreds of deaths and injuries have been reported; the primary cause has been identified as extreme heat. The temperature in Mecca increases to a record-setting 125 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. Several authorities also added that the issues have been enhanced by the rising number of unofficial pilgrimages. 

Each pilgrim must obtain one of the 1.8 million permits that are available in Saudi Arabia to enter Mecca, the holy city that serves as the hub for Hajj travellers. A pilgrim may have to pay several thousand US dollars for these licences. Unlicensed pilgrims typically do not ride in air-conditioned tour buses with convenient access to food and water or on organised tour buses. The Saudi government seemed to suggest the unauthorized nature of several of the trips as the reason for taking so long to issue an official death toll, as this had complicated the process of identification. 

“Identification completed, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and honouring the deceased, with death certificates provided,” as per the official statement. 

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The inadequate planning and facilities of this year’s Hajj trip have drawn criticism from some participants. Even pilgrims on official excursions walked outside in the intense heat for the majority of the day. Speaking to CNN, a few witnesses claimed to have seen worshippers pass out and pass by remains wrapped in white linen. The announcement of Saudi Arabia comes as the government of Egypt vowed to revoke the licenses of 16 Hajj tourism companies engaged in providing illegal pilgrimages to Mecca and refer the managers of the company to the public prosecutor in the middle of fear hundreds of Egyptians are among the departed people. 

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