Saudi Arabia

Over 900 Hajj Pilgrims Died This Year, Including 68 Indians: Report

As many as 68 Indian nationals reportedly died during the Hajj pilgrimage this year, marked by searing heat.

“We have confirmed around 68 dead… Some are because of natural causes and we had many old-age pilgrims. And some are due to the weather conditions, that’s what we assume,” AFP reported, citing an unnamed diplomat in Saudi Arabia.

The diplomat who confirmed the Indian fatalities said there were also some Indian pilgrims missing, but he declined to provide an exact number.

The news about Indian casualties came amid friends and family searching for missing pilgrims on Wednesday as the death toll at the annual rituals, which were carried out in scorching heat, surged past 900.

Relatives scoured hospitals and pleaded online for news, fearing the worst after temperatures hit 51.8°C (125°F) in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, on Monday.

About 1.8 million people from all over the world, many old and infirm, took part in the days-long, mostly outdoor pilgrimage.

An Arab diplomat told AFP that deaths among Egyptians alone had jumped to “at least 600”, from more than 300 a day earlier, mostly from the unforgiving heat.

That figure brought the total reported dead so far to 922, according to an AFP tally of figures released by various countries.

Fatalities have also been confirmed by Indonesia, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, though in many cases authorities have not specified the cause.

Last year more than 200 pilgrims were reported dead, most of them from Indonesia.

Saudi Arabia has not provided information on fatalities, though it reported more than 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone.

For the past several years the Hajj has fallen during the sweltering Saudi summer.

According to a Saudi study published last month, temperatures in the area where rituals are performed are rising 0.4°C (0.72°F) each decade.

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Arabian Business

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