Hundreds of Hajj pilgrims reported dead in lethal summer heat

More than 500 people visiting Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage have died in surging temperatures, according to multiple sources, with the reported death toll still rising.

Press agency AFP reported that at least 320 of the dead were citizens of Egypt, while Reuters reported that the Indonesian health ministry has recorded 144 deaths among its citizens attending the pilgrimage. Jordan, Senegal, Tunisia and Iran have also confirmed deaths.

The total toll currently stands at around 550, nearly double the number of deaths reported at last year’s pilgrimage. An estimated 1.8 million people have taken part in the 2024 event.

The sheer number of pilgrims participating the Hajj reliably makes it a dangerous event, with incidents of people crushed in crowds far from rare. However, the Saudi authorities are increasingly having to take measures to try and protect people from temperatures that this year have soared as high as 51°C.

Many pilgrims perform the Hajj’s rites in the early morning or late evening hours for fear of suffering heatstroke in the daytime.

More than 2,760 pilgrims suffered from sunstroke and heat stress on Sunday alone at the start of the first round of ritual stoning, according to the Saudi Health Ministry.

Experts say heat exhaustion and heatstroke are likely to become more common in the high temperature, with symptoms including heavy sweating, dizziness, muscle spasms and vomiting. Heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness and happens when the body loses its ability to sweat.

Security forces, medics and first responders have been deployed in and around Mina, especially on roads and open areas to direct and help pilgrims. They treated many people for sunburns on their feet.

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