Pilgrims who passed away include a number of elderly people and those with chronic diseases

On Sunday, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health said that more than 1,300 pilgrims died during the 2024 Hajj pilgrimage, which took place during intense heat, and that most of the deceased did not have official permits.

“1,301 people died during the #Hajj1445 season, may Allah have mercy on them all, 83% of them are not authorised to Hajj, who walked long distances under the sun, without shelter or rest, including a number of elderly people and people with chronic diseases.”

The pilgrims were exposed to heat for long periods of time without adequate shelter or rest. Temperatures in Makkah this year climbed as high as 51.8 °C, according to Saudi Arabia’s national meteorological centre.

The dead came from more than 10 countries stretching from the United States to Indonesia, and some governments are continuing to update their totals.

Earlier, the Saudi health ministry issued advisories during the Hajj season, warning of soaring temperatures and advising pilgrims to stay hydrated and avoid being outdoors during the hottest hours.

Last year, the pilgrimage saw thousands of cases of heat stress.

Saudi Arabia implemented heat mitigation measures, including climate-controlled areas. Water was distributed and pilgrims were advised on protecting themselves from the sun.

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam that all Muslims with the means must complete at least once in their lives.

Saudi officials have said 1.8 million pilgrims took part this year, a similar number to last year, and that 1.6 million came from abroad.

For the past several years the mainly outdoor rituals have fallen during the sweltering Saudi summer.

The timing of the Hajj moves forward about 11 days each year in the Gregorian calendar, meaning that next year it will take place earlier in June, potentially in cooler conditions.

A 2019 study by the journal Geophysical Research Letters said that because of climate change, heat stress for Hajj pilgrims will exceed the “extreme danger threshold” from 2047 to 2052 and 2079 to 2086, “with increasing frequency and intensity as the century progresses.”

 AFP, Reuters