1,301 died on Hajj pilgrimage this year - Saudi Arabia confirms

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 - Saudi Arabia has revealed that more than 1,300 people died on this year’s Hajj pilgrimage with “numerous cases” due to heat stress and “unauthorized” trips accounting for a huge percentage of the fatalities.

“The health system addressed numerous cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care. Regrettably, the number of mortalities reached 1,301,” the Saudi government said in a statement on Sunday, June 23 as it released its first official figures.

The spokesperson said 83% of those who died were “unauthorized to perform Hajj” and “walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort.”

There were “several elderly and chronically ill individuals” among the deceased, it said, adding that the families of all the dead had now been identified.

Mecca, the holy city that is central for Hajj pilgrims, saw temperatures soar to a record-setting 125 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. M.

Saudi Arabia requires each pilgrim to acquire one of the 1.8 million available licenses to legally access Mecca. These licenses can cost several thousand US dollars. Unlicensed pilgrims typically don’t travel in organized tour buses with air conditioning or have easy access to water and food supplies.

The Saudi government also blamed unauthorized nature of many of the trips as a factor in how long it had taken to issue an official death toll.

“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,” the statement said.

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