Hajj 2024 Death Toll Exceeds 1,300 Amid Extreme Heat and Unauthorized Pilgrims

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – The death toll among Hajj pilgrims has surpassed 1,300, Saudi authorities reported on Sunday. The devastating numbers are attributed primarily to the extreme heat and the fact that the majority of the deceased did not possess official permits to perform the pilgrimage.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the number of mortalities has reached 1,301. “Regrettably, 83% of the deceased were unauthorized to perform Hajj and had walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort,” the report stated.

The victims of this year’s Hajj come from over ten countries, including the United States and Indonesia. Several governments are still in the process of updating their figures, reflecting the widespread impact of this tragedy.

Arab diplomats revealed last week that Egyptians accounted for 658 of the deaths, with 630 of these being unregistered pilgrims. The diplomats noted that the primary cause of death in most cases was heat-related. This year, temperatures in Makkah reached a staggering 51.8°C, as reported by Saudi Arabia’s national meteorological center.

Until Sunday, Riyadh had not publicly commented on the deaths or provided its own toll. However, on Friday, a senior Saudi official disclosed a partial toll of 577 deaths over the two busiest days of Hajj: June 15, when pilgrims spent hours praying in the intense sun on Mount Arafat, and June 16, during the stoning of the devil ritual in Mina.

Defending the Saudi response to the crisis, the official stated, “The state did not fail, but there was a misjudgment on the part of people who did not appreciate the risks.”

Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al Jalajel on Sunday described the management of this year’s Hajj as “successful,” according to SPA. He highlighted that the health system “provided more than 465,000 specialized treatment services, including 141,000 services to those who did not have official authorization to perform Hajj.” This summary was drawn from an interview Al Jalajel gave to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ekhbariya channel.

This year, 1.8 million pilgrims participated in Hajj, a number similar to last year. Of these, 1.6 million came from abroad, underscoring the international scope of the pilgrimage and the global reach of the recent tragedy.

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