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Jordan, Tunisia report additional hajj heat deaths


Tuesday, 18 June, 2024 , 18:48

Riyadh, June 18, 2024 (AFP) — The death toll from extreme heat during the hajj pilgrimage rose Tuesday, with Jordan and Tunisia reporting more fatalities after temperatures hit 51.8 degrees Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) in Mecca.

As of Tuesday evening, the total number of reported deaths this year stands at 235, compared with more than 240 last year. Most countries have not specified how many deaths were heat-related.

The annual pilgrimage, one of the world's largest religious gatherings, unfolded again during the sweltering Saudi summer.

Saudi authorities have reported treating more than 2,000 pilgrims suffering from heat stress but have not provided information on fatalities.

Jordan, which had earlier reported 14 deaths from sunstroke, on Tuesday said 41 permits to bury deceased pilgrims in Mecca had been issued.

It said officials were "monitoring the procedures for burying Jordanian pilgrims who passed away during the hajj after suffering from heatstroke as a result of the extreme heat wave".

The official Petra news agency also said an untold number of Jordanian pilgrims were missing and that authorities were trying to locate them and bring them home.

Tunisia's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that 35 hajj pilgrims died amid a "sharp rise in temperatures" in Saudi Arabia.

Neither the Jordanian nor Tunisian statements said precisely how many deaths could be attributed to heat as opposed to other ailments.

Egypt's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Cairo was collaborating with Saudi authorities on search operations for Egyptians who had gone missing during the hajj.

While a statement from the ministry said "a certain number of deaths" occurred, it did not specify whether Egyptians were among them.

Earlier this week Indonesia reported 132 deaths among hajj pilgrims, three of which were attributed to heatstroke, and heat was cited as "one of the main reasons" for 13 deaths among pilgrims from Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

Senegal and Iran have also reported deaths without listing a cause.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims with the means must complete it at least once.

The pilgrimage is increasingly affected by climate change, according to a Saudi study published last month that said temperatures in the area where rituals are performed were rising 0.4C each decade.

Around 1.8 million pilgrims took part this year, 1.6 million of them from abroad, according to Saudi authorities.