19 Iranian, Jordanian pilgrims die during Haj

Published June 17, 2024
Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual as part of the Haj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah. — AFP
Muslim pilgrims arrive to perform the symbolic ‘stoning of the devil’ ritual as part of the Haj pilgrimage in Mina, near Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah. — AFP

AMMAN: At least 19 Jordanian and Iranian pilgrims have died while on the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, authorities from their countries said on Sunday, as temperatures soar in the kingdom.

“14 Jordanian pilgrims died and 17 others were missing” during the performance of Haj rituals, Jordan’s foreign ministry said in a statement, not specifying their cause of death.

Iranian Red Crescent chief Pirhossein Koolivand said, “Five Iranian pilgrims have lost their lives so far in Mecca and Medina during the Haj this year”, also not explaining how they died.

The Haj, one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings, is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must perform it at least once.

Temperatures have pushed well past 104 degrees Fahrenheit during the annual pilgrimage by around 1.8 million Muslims this year. Many of the rituals are performed outdoors and on foot, creating challenges for the elderly.

Saudi Arabia has not provided details on fatalities, though it implemented heat mitigation measures, including climate-controlled areas, distributes water, and offers advice to pilgrims on protecting themselves from the sun. During last year’s Haj 240 people died. Over 10,000 heat-related illnesses were recorded last year, 10 per cent of them heat stroke, a Saudi official said this week.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2024

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