• 22 Jul, 2024

Saudi Arabia: Over 1,300 Hajj pilgrims die – heat blamed

Saudi Arabia: Over 1,300 Hajj pilgrims die – heat blamed

Saudi Arabia says at least 1,301 people have died during the Hajj pilgrimage so far this year, blaming the vast majority of the deaths on extreme heat.

Saudi Arabia's Health Minister Fahad Al-Jaragel announced the death toll on Sunday.

He claimed that "83 percent of the dead were unauthorized pilgrims who traveled long distances under the hot sun without proper protection, and about half of the victims came from Egypt."

Some of the countries from which this year's Hajj pilgrims came are continually updating their numbers.

However, Al-Jaragel said that this year's Saudi pilgrimage management was "successful," the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

"The health system has treated a large number of cases of heat stress this year, and some are still receiving treatment," he said.  The minister also claimed that "several of the dead were elderly and chronically ill." 

On Friday, a senior Saudi official also defended Riyadh's actions, saying "the state did not fail, but there was a miscalculation on the part of its people, who did not assess the risks." The hajj pilgrimage is one of the pillars of Islam. It consists of a series of religious rituals performed over five days in Mecca, Islam's holiest city, and surrounding areas in western Saudi Arabia.